7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Classification in Clerical Division.
– A few days ago I asked the Leader of the Senate the following questions: -
The Minister’s reply wasthat inquiries were being made. I should like to know if those inquiries have been completed; and, if so, what are the answers to my questions ?
– In conformity with mystatement, steps were taken to have the inquiries proceeded with. I have no doubt thatthey have been made, but, as the information has. not yet reached me, I assume that they have not been completed. I shall make further inquiries to-day, and I hope to be in a position to furnish the honorable senator with the information at a later hour.
– I asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister some time since for information relative to the number of hands employed in Commonwealth shipbuilding. I should like to know whether the informationis yet available?
– I may read the specific questions put by Senator Keating as an indication of the nature of the replies. They were as follow: -
The answers are -
I may add that these replies are about a week old, and in the interval the numbers have increased, and are steadily increasing.
– Is it a fact that the forty-four men supposed to be employed in shipbuilding at Walsh Island are employed only on preparatory work, and that there is not one mechanic or one machine at work at Walsh Island on practical shipbuilding?
– I am unable to answer the question.
– In view of the suggestion contained in . the honorable senator’s question, I shall put the matter before the Acting Prime Minister. I have no doubt that steps will be taken to give effect to the honorable senator’s wishes.
Personnel of Staff
– Some time ago the Senate agreed to a motion calling for a return of names, salaries, and other particulars of the staff of the Repatriation Department. Will the Minister for Repatriation say whether the information has been obtained; and, if so, when we may expect to get it?
– The information sought by the honorable senator necessitated communications with all the States. I assume that the return is being completed. I shall make inquiry during the day, and inform the honorable senator of the result later.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate whether he has noticed, in connexion with the various reports of the depredations of the German cruiser Wolf, a statement that when an Australian woman and children with other captives were on the Spanish collier Izotz Mendi, the chief officer of the Spanish vessel, Senor Soseata, apprehending that the Germans were about to blow the vessel up with the woman and children on board, went into the chart-room very gallantly and at very great personal risk to himself, and, notwithstanding the presence of the Germans, threw the bombs overboard.Does the Minister not think that it would be a grateful act for the Commonwealth Government to communicate through the Spanish Consul with the Spanish Government their appreciation of an act so compatible with that chivalry which the whole world attributes to the best side of the Spanish character?
– I shall place the suggestion before the Acting Prime Minster. I am not aware that any information other than that contained in the newspaper paragraph has yet been re- ceived regarding the incident referred to.
The following papers . were pre- s ented : -
Customs Act 1901-1916-
Proclamation, dated 5th June, 1918. prohibiting exportation (except under cortain conditions) of Butter, Cheese, Cream, Concentrated Milk. Condensed Milk, Condensed Skim Milk, or Dried Milk; also revoking previous proclamation (Dated 13th February,1918).
Proclamations prohibiting exportation (except under certain conditions) of -
Bicarbonate of Soda (Dated 5th June, 1918).
Salt (Dated 29th May, 1918).
Trading with the Enemy Act 1914-1916.-
Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1918, No. 153.
Price Fixing : Meat : Action of Queenslandgovernment : secondhand Bags : Building Material - Meat Production andWater Conservation - War-time Profits Taxation - Mr. Critchley Parker and the “ Mining Standard “ - Adjournments of Parliament : Ministerial Duties - The War : Loyalty of Labour Party : Military Situation : “ Peace by Negotiation “ : Peace Terms : Captured German Possessions : “Hands off the Pacific” Policy: Australia’s Contribution and Fighting Record - Recruiting Conference and Obstacles to Recruiting : Fulfilment of Government Pledges: Return of Enlistments - Unlawful Associations Act: Detention of Offenders - Internment of Aliens - Shipbuilding - Invalid and Old-age Pensions - Defence Administration : Preference to Unionists: Hours of Clerical Staff at Fremantle - Australian Imperial Force : Enlistments for Special Service: Sergeants-Major and Active Service Rank : Soldiers’ Wives Abroad:Notification of Return of Soldiers - War Pensions : Mothers of Deceased Soldiers - Commonwealth Police: Attendance on Prime Minister - Ministerial Representation in London - Unimproved Value of Orchard Lands - Wheat Pool and Wheat Production -Northern Territory : Administration and Development : Railway Construction - Postal Department : Country Facilities : Proposed Training Institutes : Method of Entrance to Service and Promotion : Letter-carriers and Bicycles - Public Service Act”: Need for Amendment : Furlough - EastWest Railway : Break of Gauge - Refusal of Employment to Wharf Labourers - Victimization ofMember of Citizen Forces - SelectCommittee on Intoxicants.
Debate resumed from 13th June (vide page 5989), on motion by Senator Millen -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
. -When the Senate last night kindly gave me permision to resume my remarks this morning, I was pursuing the fascinating will-o’-the-wisp of price-fixing..
Through the courtesy of the Minister for Works and Railways, I received, in common with other honorable senators, a very nice souvenir of the recently completed transcontinental railway. The publication is very well got up. It is very readable and well illustrated.
– But the matter it contains is not very correct.
– I am not competent to pronounce upon that. The publication describes a great deal of the country through which the railway passes, and which is at present uninhabited except for a few railway officials and a few straggling tribes of natives It has certain possibilities in connexion with the grazing industry in the rearing of cattle and horses. I venture to say that it will be with the greatest difficulty that settlement of any kind can be induced in the region of the railway unless some mineral discoveries are made there. The prospect of such discovery is not promising in view of the pronouncement regarding the geology of the tracts traversed. We may, however, reasonably hope that something may be done in that region by the development of the pastoral industry. Under existing conditions it will be very difficult to get people to settle there, but it will be doubly difficult if the Commonwealth Government embraces the policy of fixing the prices or regulating the prices of products of primary industries, and always in a downward direction. I need say no more in regard to this vexed question, but that men who have made a study of the matter, economists and University men, attribute the rising in prices, not only in Australia, but throughout the world, in a very large measure to the great increase in the volume of paper money. We all know that the necessities of the war conditions have caused the various belligerent Governments to issue prodigious quantities of paper money. Here in Australia we are doing the same thing. I am not for a moment suggesting that what is being done is incorrect, but men who have received good college and University education, and have devoted themselves to the study of economics, have made pronouncements on this question which cannot lightly be disregarded. Thev assert that the paper money suffers automatically a kind of natural discounting as it increases in volume, and that this discounting is expressed in the increase of prices. While I do not wholly subscribe to that theory, I believe there is a great deal in it. I think it is at least one of the contributory factors to the rise of prices over the whole world. The InterState Commissiou does not state in its reports that there is a trust, or sinister combine, operating in Australia to increase the price of meat. In fact, they say there is not. If that be so, is not the rise in the price of meat attributable to some economic factor which we have not properly visualized? It may be the one to which I have just alluded as troubling the professorial mind, or it may be some other, undiscovered by professors or members of the body politic.
– It may be the expensive methods of distribution.
– Undoubtedly that will be a factor. Senator Guy will re- member that, in Tasmania, a couple of months ago, it was suggested by a few urban purchasers of hay and chaff that the price of hay in the State should be fixed, and the statement was made on the authority of the Government Statistician of Tasmania, a very valuable public servant, since deceased, that the hay harvest right through Tasmania would reach 40,000 tons. I happened to attend a meeting of farmers gathered to discuss that subject, and, with all due respect to the late statistician, whose memory is very dear to all sections of the Tasmanian people, it was proved beyond doubt that wrong predictions, that were not borne out by the harvest, had been furnished to him, on which he had based certain deductions about the forthcoming hay crop. Many of the farmers present said that if the price of hay was fixed, as suggested by the meeting of consumers, they would put firesticks into their hay crops and allow the ashes to’ manure the ground.
-But they did not intend to do it.
– Perhaps not; but it has been proved to demonstration that the harvest was not anything like what the figures of the Government Statistician led us to expect. Is there any exact information available in Australia as to the flocks and herds? If such a wrong estimate can be made of the amount of hay grown in a small State like Tasmania, it is quite possible that there is no exact information in regard to the flocks and herds of Australia; and it may be that many of the deductions made by the members of the Interestate Commission are based on altogether wrong data, and not upon facts. I do not blame those gentlemen, although I do blame any Government that allows an Inter-State Commission to suggest to it a policy. “We should be very careful in our legislative attitude towards the matter of price fixing in those circumstances. At this stage, until it is demonstrated to me that some sinister influence is operating in regard to the price of meat, I absolutely refuse to put the primary producers of Australia in an inimical position as compared with other branches of industry. Senator Guy, who helps me to represent Tasmania, knows that around the coast of our island State there are groups of islands which bear pretty well the same relation to us as the Greek Archipelago bears to Greece. King Island and Flinders Island, for example, are insufficiently settled at present; but there bids fair to be prosperous communities established on them in connexion with the grazing industry. Are we, the representatives of Tasmania, to permit the development of our island Dependencies to be checked by the fixation of- the prices of the natural product of the settlers there? Such a policy is not going to get any support from me.
– Flinders Island is not Australia.
– It is a Dependency of Tasmania, and I am sent here to help to “represent the interest of the State of Tasmania, of which King Island is & part. King Island forms a market for store cattle raised in Tasmania; they are fattened there, and sent to the mainland for sale. Whatever may be the talk about profiteers and big squatters, the bulk of the meat in our State is produced by comparatively small settlers. At the meeting I attended regarding the fixing of the price of hay, there were about 120 substantial farmers present, and there was not a profiteer among them, nor was there even one decently rich man. I believe there was not one there worth £5,000.
– Is it not possible for profiteering to exist after the producer has parted with the meat?
– Anything is possible; but I shall not subscribe to the price-fixing policy until it is demonstrated to me that some sinister factor is operating, though I admit that in a state of war all things are permissible. The producers of meat are going to be subjected to a policy which will confessedly regulate the price of their commodity in a downward direction.
– How does the honorable senator know that price-fixing will reduce the price to the producer!
– Is not that the intention ?
– Not necessarily.
– The belief of the primary producers is that it is going to affect them very seriously, and it will take a great deal to educate them out of that belief.
– That fear is strengthened by such utterances as the honorable senator is making now.
– It is my intention to strengthen it, because I believe it is a fact.
The policy of the Government, as very properly expressed, has been to encourage production; and I wish to refer to the paralyzing effects of a measure which we, unfortunately, were contributory parties to enacting. That is the war-time profits tax. As no one can tell what the return from that tax will be, I am not going to deny that it may be possible to extract from the pockets of the people of Australia anything from £500,000 up to £2,000,000 for one year per medium of the tax; but I assert that it will be done, possibly, at the loss of tens of millions of pounds in connexion with the. operations and the enterprises of the people, of Australia. The Act is exercising a paralyzing influence in every direction. What capitalist will start an industry at the present time, with a measure on the statute-book that will enable the Government to take from him 50 to 75 per cent, of the profits that he makes, irrespective of the fact that those profits may not be due to war conditions at all? The logic of the position is demonstrable to the most insufficient intelligence. The thing is a brake upon enterprise. It is of no use to argue that, because they have a measure of that description in the Home Country, we should have a similar measure here. I could use the Home Country as an illustration in connexion with the fixation of the prices of meat, hy quoting an article in the Spectator, which states that the price of pork has been sensibly affected through cottagers refusing to continue pig-breeding because of price fixing.
– It is because of the difficulty of getting food for the pigs.
– That may be a contributory factor, arid so may certain municipal regulations, but price fixing is stated to have had the effect I mention. Because they have long-established industries in the Home country, the profits *f which have been inflated by commercial operations during the war period, .and because the war-time profits tax may be a necessary measure there, it does not follow that in a country like Australia, where there are all sorts of nascent industries, and industries yet to be born, “we should have a measure of the same kind on the statute-book. Although we may for a year or two, by means of this pernicious enactment, extract a couple of million pounds from the pockets of the people of Australia, its influence is paralyzing and strangling upon all those energies which we should be employing in the development and encouragement of the industries of our country.
I have very reluctantly to refer to a personal matter, to which circumstances compel me to make allusion. Matters that are purely personal are of little account in a time like the present; but a matter may have a personal and also a great national aspect. It may be important from the stand-point of honorable senators individually, and also from the stand-point of honorable senators collectively as a legislative body. Fourteen or fifteen months ago there was a political crisis or political situation in this country, resulting in an election. There were some proceedings at the time which appeared very strange to certain of the electors, arid to me as a senator. I stated then that I charged nobody with improper conduct, nor do I make any such charge now. It is not my natural habit to conden.n people on insufficient evidence; in fact, I never make a charge against anybody unless I think I have a sufficiency of evidence, and, even then, my natural inclination of mind is to allow things to pass, because, after all, none of us is perfect. Having in view the fact that I helped to represent a small State, and that this Chamber is one whose status is very valuable to the people inhabiting those States in which the population is not numerically great, it struck me that it would be very unwise, in the atmosphere that then existed, to prolong the life of the Parliament In that event, the result, had it been so prolonged as was contemplated by a certain resolution t would have been eminently unsatisfactory. The life of the Parliament was not prolonged. I made certain statements of my attitude and of my troublings of mind about the situation, iri a way that I considered was justified, and I thought nothing more was necessary. The election transpired, and I was justified in the. event; for, after all, we now have a party with a majority in both Chambers that has the power, and, I believe, to a large extent the will, to enact useful legislation. I am not going to constitute myself the black-tracker of politics. So long as the status of the Senate, to which I deem it an honour to have been sent by the. people of Tasmania, is unimpaired - and I do not think any action or utterance of mine has impaired its status iri the minds of the Australian people - I shall be satisfied. The historian of the future can unravel any political tangle in any manner that he deems desirable. As for me, I reserve my opinions for my own consumption, and T only allow them to govern my actions to. the extent that I deem to be necessary. Such has been my attitude in the past, and such is my attitude at the present time. But something has transpired out of the action which I deemed necessary to take, the consequences of which affect every public man. Now my motives were governed solely by my consideration for the status of this Chamber, and I venture to say that, in this chamber, there will always be found men determined to see that the rights of the Australian people in regard to legislative action are properly maintained. But a certain gentleman who has loomed much too largely in the life of Australia during the last two or three years, deemed it desirable to libel me in a very strange publication, of which he was practically the sole proprietor, and, perhaps the editor at the time. He stated that my action during the political crisis referred to was governed by some sectarian motive - by some disloyal feeling towards the British Empire. My loyalty to the
Empire is not likely to be questioned by anybody whose opinion I value, for all my family on the maternal side fought for the Empire long before the present war, and I may say that my mother’s family for the last 150 years has given soldiers to the British Empire. No traitor has ever been ‘discovered among them, and if the British Empire is not betrayed until I turn traitor, The Traitor’s Gate will never be opened.
Rightly or wrongly, there seems to have been some association between the gentleman to whom I refer and the Government. I do not say the connexion has been an improper one, but it has been deemed suspicious by a very large section of the people, and, apart from the fact that he libelled me, 1 venture to say that the connexion has not been at all conducive to good feeling in the community. The Government seem to have employed him on occasions to do a considerable amount of printing work, the accounts for which run into hundreds of pounds, and the other night when the Supply Bill was under consideration, I noticed an item for payment to this gentleman for services rendered to the’ Prime Minister’s Department, presumably in connexion with printing. For the moment, T intended to say then what I am about to say now, but I let the occasion pass because I thought that, as no doubt the work had been satisfactorily performed, there was no reason why payment should be prejudiced, even though the man had constituted himself my political enemy.
The application of my remarks will be to show the necessity for a Commonwealth company law, which will make impossible proceedings such as I am about to mention. I know public men must be subject to criticism, so I was reluctant to take action in the matter, but I was accused of being a traitor to m’y country in time of war. and that was an unendurable affront, of which I was bound to take notice, particularly as the gentleman who made the charge was the proprietor, and, presumably, the editor of a not obscure publication. I refer to the Australian Mining Standard, which has been before the mining public of Australia for a quarter of a century, and J may remark that I have had the doubtful honour of seeing articles of mine on mining matters, published originally in the Tasmanian press, appearing in the journal referred to without my knowledge or consent. About the year 1915, this gentleman, for reasons of his own, tacked on a publication called the Statesman te the Mining Standard, and this journal, which, as a mining paper, seemed to have been conducted very well, then became a political organ with a very pronounced bias against a certain section of the community. Long before the political crisis to which I made reference, I noticed one day, in Collinsstreet, a large illustrated placard which propounded a sort of conundrum, but which, upon looking at it closely, I could see was designed in a spirit of hostility to a certain section of the Australian people, and if it had not been that my attitude might have been construed as one of ill-will, I would certainly have brought the matter under the notice of the Minister for Defence. But let thatpass. My religion is a simple one. If a man is a decent fellow, I care very little what religion he professes, and as for sectarian views, I can hardly understand then,. because, after all, the future life and the problems attached to it, constitute a matter of incertitude. These things are clear only to eyes which employ the lens of faith. In all probability had my mother been a Turkish woman, I would have been a Mohammedan at the present time, and so 1 do not hold any man’s religion as anything to his credit or anything that may be quoted in his favour. Religion is a subject that I speak of very rarely. I do not think I excel in the practice of it, and, that being so, it is not for me to make any public professions. Such religion as I have been taught and brought uo in, I will nominally profess while I live, and other men may do what they like. But I strongly protest against being criticised on the ground of the religion that I profess, and strongly object to being classed as a betrayer of my country, when I am veryconscious of being something very far from that. In 1915, this gentleman incorporated the Statesman with the Mining Standard, and, as I have already said, the career of the Statesman, may be construed as one long attack upon persons in this community belonging to a certain religious denomination. Whatever the motives may have been, that was the actual result. The point is that a man professing to be a journalist, and acting in the interests of the Empire, was able> to indulge per medium of the Victorian company legislation in practices which are deplorable and contemptible.
In September, 1915, this gentleman, Mr. Critchley Parker, with some desire, I suppose, to mask the real proprietorship of the publication which he contemplated issuing with what, I believe, was inimical intent, formed a company called the Australian Statesman and Mining Standard Ltd., and transferred to it the whole of the copyright, the advertising blocks, illustrations, good-will, &c, but not the plant or machinery of the Mining Standard. He and his wife were practically the only shareholders in the concern. If I. have occasion to refer to the fact that Mrs. Parker was the only other shareholder in connexion with this Protean notation, I want to say that I make no invidious reference to the lady in question. She is unknown to me. She is the wife of her husband, and I regard it as a good principle to hold in respect, marital obedience and co-operation of a wife with her husband within the range of the law. I will simply refer to the fact that she appeared with her husband as a shareholder and director of this company, which has assumed two or three different shapes. TheA ustralian Statesman and Mining Standard continued its activities until within a few days for the time set down for the hearing, in Hobart, of a libel action which I had instituted. In regard to this matter, I will say of the press of Australia that the great metropolitan journals, and a good substantial number of the country press, always stand their ground. If, in criticising a man, they get over the fence, well, they are there to be shot at, and are prepared to abide the hazard of the die, because the law is, to a certain extent, a lottery. Now this man charged me, as well as Senator Keating, with betraying my country at the bidding of a Roman Catholic cleric.
– He anticipated the results of it.
– Quite so. He at once caused his bogus company to assume another shape - re-transferring to himself the property represented in the journal referred to. Inquiries in the RegistrarGeneral’s office in Melbourne showed that only he and his wife were at any time shareholders in the concern.
– There was another shareholder. Critchley Parker Limited have all the shares but two. The wife had one ; Critchley Parker had another, and Critchley Parker Limited had all the rest.
– The whole business is Critchley Parker himself, who seems to me to be a dangerous fanatic, and ought to be ‘in bedlam. He is a dangerous and a vicious fanatic. This company existed only on paper. It had no assets. It was brought into being as a mask to protect Critchley Parker in his campaign of vilification, conducted through the instrumentality of the Statesman against a large number of the Australian people. There are cranks who believe that Prussia - that is to say, the German nation - the greatest Protestant Power in the world, is out to restore the temporal sovereignty of the Pope, and that it is the Pope who is the moving instrument behind the whole dreadful conflict. How utterly ridiculous and impossible! Do we not find Mohammedans fighting for the British against fellow Mohammedans - the Turks? We have Mohammedans fighting against their Mohammedan Khalif - which is to say, in effect, their Pope. Altogether, the whole religious element is tremendously involved on both sides, and there is not. the faintest trace of religious causes being at the back of the war. Practically every religious sect, with the probable single exception of the Quakers, is actively engaged on both sides ; and any man who discovers a religious motive in the world war, and insists that any one religious body is the mainspring of it all, is no better than a dangerous lunatic. He deserves to be placed alongside of the Germans themselves, and to suffer a common fate with them.
The effect of this libel action has been that a jury of my countrymen, differing from me very largely, no doubt, in religious views and in regard to political principles - and upon which jury the denomination to which I belong probably had not a single representative - gave to my colleague and myself a verdict each of £450 damages, with costs. That completely vindicated us if such vindication were necessary in the eyes of the people who had sent us into the Australian Senate. I pay tribute to the spirit of justice animating British institutions when I state that at any time, in regard to my public and private actions, I shall have no hesitation in submitting myself to the closest investigation at the hands of a jury of fellow-citizens, no matter what their religious or political professions may be. I should, perhaps, make an exception, however, with respect to just a few really dangerous fanatics.
Did this gentleman - and I place a verbal «note of interrogation ‘after the word - show himself a man and a sport? Did he appear in Hobart? No. There was no representative of his alleged company there - at which time, by the way, it had gone into liquidation ; and as to that I was apprised of the position by some anonymous correspondent forwarding me newspaper cuttings through the post. There was no representative of Critchley Parker - no witness, no director, no editor, no leader-writer, no proprietor. But this company, which was then in liquidation, was represented by one of the most eminent counsel practising in the Australian Courts. I have nothing against this gentleman, who, no doubt, did his duty; but I take it that he was instructed to endeavour to win his case on behalf of Critchley Parker -by means of a. rather venomous but undoubtedly able appeal to that sectarian atmosphere which he quite wrongly believed to exist in the island State. No man who appeals to a Tasmanian jury in the hope of arousing ill-feeling by medium of religious principles may ever hope to get much change out of the transaction. Such methods would give him no lien upon the jury’s verdict.
The jury gave my colleague and myself substantial verdicts. I may say that we had to take our action to vindicate ourselves and the Australian Senate; because, if we had been afraid to go into the witness-box and subject ourselves to cross-examination at the hands of able counsel, it would have been said by our enemies that we feared to face the ordeal. Does any one believe that counsel was- not paid ; that the company, which was in liquidation and had no assets, was unable to hand him his fees? I venture to say he got his money. I was surprised, however, that a firm of lawyers of professedly good standing in Melbourne associated themselves - I speak of the solicitors and not of the counsel - with Critchley Parker in connexion with his manipulations and twistings and turnings under the sinister protecting shadow of the company law of Victoria. It has all produced one rather humorous result for me. Many people, anticipating that I had received the sum indicated by the verdict, looked upon myself as having drawn a fairly good prize in Tattersalls. Numerous requests, based upon the assumption that I had secured the sum of the jury’s award, were sent to me through the post. I have not received the money ; but I have a rod in pickle for this same gentleman before I am finished with him. My reason for alluding to the matter at all is that it has an aspect worthy of the consideration of honorable senators and the public. It is this : The company which we sued has disappeared. Another company has been constituted under the title of The Australian Statesman and Mining Standard Ltd. It is the same name as the defunct company. The people to whom its alleged assets have been transferred are still Mr. and Mrs. Parker; but the paper is not published as The Australian, Statesman and Mining Standard. Apparently, these people have become rather ashamed, or they desire to indulge in a little more camouflage. This organ is now published as the Australian Mining and Industrial Record, but it is not registered as such.
No public man should be resentful of criticism, unless it is altogether unfair and far-reaching in its inaccuracies. It is well that the public and press should have comprehensive freedom of criticism under the law of the land; but no newspaper should be given privileges that an individual citizen cannot claim. “When one man libels another, he is amenable to the law. He cannot, under cover of the company law, be rid of the legal consequences of his statements. He cannot - protected by the company law - accuse another man of the foul crime of betraying his country at a time of war because of some fanatical idea, and then, posing as a great regenerator, slip from under and re-appear in another guise, to do more damage with a similar instrument.
This individual has done a very great deal of harm in connexion with. Australia’s war efforts. In Tasmania at the last referendum, the “ No “ vote showed no increase at all, while the “ Yes “ vote was sensibly diminished. In that conscriptionist State the affirmative vote scored only a very small majority. T attribute- the fact, in a large measure, to the continual dissemination through the post of mo3t opprobrious publications reflecting on a very large and worthy section of the community, which, in Tasmania, has done proportionately more, perhaps, than its population share towards our efforts generally in connexion with the war. Many people who were offended by those publications refrained from voting. They were so incensed at the employment of the postal service as a means of studiously and continuously transmitting published insults, that they remained away from the polling booths. Thus the “ Yes “ majority was substantially reduced.
In the Australian Mining and Industrial Record,- which is really The Australian Statesman and Mining Standard - for no legal change of name can alter the nature of the man - its publisher has had the egregious effrontery to publish an article denunciatory of the Railwaymen’s Union of Victoria for having passed a resolution expressing the idea that Australia should repudiate her war debt. I shall say nothing concerning the resolution itself. This individual published a leader deprecating, just a3 I do, the passing of such a resolution. But his concluding words, if I remember them rightly, were -
It is to bli hoped that the Government of the Commonwealth will take action to prevent any public or private repudiation of debts.
What a beautiful criticism ! I am a man, by no means perfect. In my career I have at times found it pretty difficult to pay 20s. in the £1. I have occasionally been somewhat long-winded; but I have always paid eventually, and shall endeavour until the end to render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s. I shall not take upon myself, therefore, the role of censor over other men’s actions unless I cau regard myself as absolutely aboveboard in all my own dealings. But this man, who maligns me, has taken the Rail.waymen’s Union to task for advocating the repudiation of our national obligations, and he trusts that the Government will take action in the matter. Why, he is a repudiator himself! I want the people of Australia to know this individual, so that they may understand the value which should be attached to his criticisms, particularly when they are of the character of which I have reason to complain. The action which I instituted was taken to vindicate my own attitude in connexion with the political crisis I have mentioned. My proceedings, I venture to say, were by no means derogatory to the dignity of this Chamber in the eyes of the Australian people, but, nevertheless, they cost me about £200. This individual, adopting the methods of the Hun, and who is supposed to be antiGerman, is going about the country stating that he has paid the judgment which we obtained against him. I am aware of the dignity that ought to be observed by an honorable senator in his place in this Chamber. I will, therefore, not apply to him the term that I would be justified in applying. I know that under the cloak of privilege an honorable senator is in a position to make most damaging statements in regard to people outside. But Mr. Critchley Parker’s allegation that he has paid Senator .Keating and myself the judgment which we secured against him is untrue.
– Has he made that statement ?
– He has. Under the shadow of the bogus newspaper company which he instituted as a preliminary to his sectarian campaign, he has stood from under, and has not paid either my colleague or myself. He is not a sport, nor a man, but a dangerous element in this community, and he should be suppressed .
– Is he not a Liberal organizer ?
– Probably he is. But the Liberal organization at times includes within its ranks dangerous fanatics, just as does the Labour organization.
– The Labour organization has not anybody within its ranks to equal Critchley Parker.
– The Labour party has not within its ranks so dangerous a fanatic as Critchley Parker. Or, possibly, it may have fanatics who are equally as dangerous, but it is doubtful whether they are so unmanly and unscrupulous. Therefore, after we have emerged victorious from this war, let” us see to it that we pass a Commonwealth company law by means of which we shall be able to protect, not merely ourselves, but every de- cent citizen who may be maligned by a man of the type to whom I have alluded.
– Do not call him a man : he is unworthy of the name.
– Probably the honorable senator is right. But these proceedings should be placed on record so that the people of Australia may have some permanent evidence of the trials and troubles to which their public men are at times subjected. The whole business is a sordid one, and I hope that honorable senators, in their individual and collective capacity, will, when they are libelled, profit by my experience, and take care toascertain whether the libeller - although he may be very guilty - is not, after all, what members of the French Academy, in dignified language, call “ a vendor of stained paper.” This man is “ a vendor of stained paper “ - stained paper which has been circulated by means of the .postoffice, throughout the length and breadth of Australia, to the serious detriment of our war effort, and to the souring of the temper of a large and loyal section of our population. In view of the censorship of the statement that a German mine was washed ashore on the coast of Tasmania, I have never been able to understand why, during the recent political campaign, the activities of this man through the medium of the post-office were not curtailed. All reference to the movements of a German raider were censored, but yet the Commonwealth Post Office was allowed to be used for the circulation of literature that teemed with insulting cartoons drawn from publications issued in the sorry and hapless times of a century ago. This man’s office in the community - and I believe that he is subsidized by individuals as dangerous as himself - is to use the war for vile sectarian attacks on persons professing different religious views from his own. Though I have lost a couple of hundred pounds as the result of my action, it will not be the first £200 I have made and lost, and probably it will not be the last.
– Take it out of his hide.
– That is a matter for consideration later on. I have another rod in pickle for his hide, anyhow. It has distressed me somewhat that I have been compelled to make this reference to a matter, which, nevertheless, is not altogether a personal one. No man who is worthy of a seat in this Chamber cares to thus publicly allude to his private affairs. No allusion would have been made to my private affairs had they not a very important bearing upon the status of honorable senators and of worthy civilians outside. I hope we shall take an early opportunity of enacting a company law which, while it will give ample power of criticism to the citizens of a free and enlightened community, will, nevertheless, prevent the vendors of “ stained paper “ from vilifying the public men of Australia, whose characters, after all, will stand comparison with those of the public men of any other country.
I thank honorable senators for having listened patiently to my long series’ of somewhat discursive remarks. If I have made references which savour of acerbity in regard to the differences between the two great political parties in Australia, it will be understood that I have not made them in a rancorous way, but wholly with the intention of pointing out defects which mar our united national effort on behalf of that Empire which is absolutely the only thing that stands between us and disaster. Yesterday Senator Gardiner quoted Mr. Fisher’s declaration in connexion with “ the last man awd the last shilling,” as one which put Australia first. In a sense, I, too, put Australia first. But I say, in all seriousness, that the proper way in which to put Australia first is to first establish our national security by seeing that our Empire is victorious. In Australia we cannot be safe unless the Allies are unqualifiedly triumphant in this struggle. Despite Senator Gardiner’s views, I contend that the best way to be a good Australian nationalist is to be a strong Imperialist. Unless Australia support’s, to the best of her ability, the effort’ that is being made along , Imperial lines, Australian nationalism cannot survive. We are as yet unable to stand apart from our Imperial mother’s apron strings. She has been generous to us financially and politically, she has allowed us to model our institutions on the basis of her own, she has been an indulgent Imperial mother, and it is certainly up to us, although we may be the third or fourth generation removed from our ancestors of the British Isles, to do our best to bring the Empire through the perilous pass in which it finds itself, so that we may get an Imperial Britain victorious, which will assure the safety of the growing nationalism of Australia, a tree which will bear fruit, not only in the remote future, but in the days of generations not distant from ourselves.
.- The Bill which we are now considering looks like the signal from the acting Commander-in-Chief of the Win-the-war party and Government to retreat - not to advance. We are asked to grant three months’ Supply, having secured which, the Win-the-war Government, and the party supporting it, will at once retire into the safe haven of recess, where they will be free from any criticism to which they might be subjected if Parliament were in session.
– Not free from criticism, but free from the necessity of having to sit here and listen to it.
– That is just the trouble. The Minister for Repatriation does not want to listen to criticism at all. He and his colleagues desire to be free.
– To get to work.
– Let me tell the Minister how he has been working. On the 6th May, 1917, the present Government came into power. Since then this Parliament has sat upon seventy-three days in twelve months. Twelve months to-day Parliament opened. The session occupied one day. Parliament met again on the 11th July of last year. It is a jolly good thing, in view of the closing remarks of Senator Bakhap, that it did not meet on the 12th July. The sittings of the Senate numbered sixty-three, and those of the House of Representatives seventy-three. These figures illustrate how the Minister for Repatriation wishes to get to work. During all the time that the two Houses have been in recess, what work have the Government -done towards winning the war? I am still wondering. ] am very much under the impression that when this Bill is carried, and when Parliament allows the Government to get into recess, Ministers will just do the same amount of work during the next three months that they have done during the past twelve months. I listened attentively to the very eloquent and impressive address of Senator Bakhap. Whether one agrees with him or not, one must, in all sincerity, admit that in his speech he adopted a very high tone, and expressed lofty sentiments. But during the course of his remarks he made a charge against the Labour party, of which I am a member, to which I intend to reply. He said distinctly that the Labour party is a disloyal party. I refreshed the honorable senator’s memory while he was speaking, but he reiterated the charge.
– My remarks referred particularly to some of the executive officers.
– It was with that object in view that I questioned the honorable senator’s remarks, and he reiterated the charge that the Labour party was disloyal and is disloyal. I should like him to point to any member of the Australian Labour party in this Parliament, in the States Parliaments, or outside those Parliaments who is a disloyal man. In dealing with a particular individual to-day, Critchley Parker, the honorable senator mentioned that person’s name. Will he here and now, in his place as a responsible senator, a position to which he attaches great importance, name the member of this party to whom he refers?
– I was not referring to the Parliamentarians at all.
– Will the honorable senator give the names of any members of Labour organizations outside who are disloyal?
– I could give several names.
– This is the way in which I like to meet arguments of thi3 kind. It is all very well to make general statements of such a nature, but the honorable senator should be specific when he makes such charges.
Let us review the position. The Labour party was in charge of the affairs of this Commonwealth during three -years of war from 1914 to 1917. It was also in charge of the government of this country prior to the outbreak of the war. If it had not been for the prevision - to repeat a word used frequently by Senator Bakhap during his speech - of that party, in making preparations for war, many of which were bitterly opposed by the party with which Senator Bakhap is associated to-day, we should not have been prepared when the dread tocsin of war sounded.
The honorable senator referred last night to the Australian note issue. It was the Australian Labour party, in charge of the affairs of the Commonwealth between 1910 and 1913, that instituted the Australian note issue. Tt was the same party in charge of the affairs of the country that later established the Commonwealth Bank. If it had not been for the introduction and carrying out of those two measures I venture to say that when war was declared in August, 1914, we should have had the greatest financial panic that Australia has ever known. The Commonwealth Bank and the Australian note issue have been the sheet anchors of Australian finance.
Again, this Australian Labour party, which the honorable senator asserts is a disloyal party, made other preparations for war. They established different factories, some of which we have been given the opportunity to visit during the last few weeks. The Harness Factory, the Clothing Factory, the Small Anns Factory at Lithgow, and the Commonwealth Woollen mills at Geelong were all established by the party . alleged by Senator Bakhap to be disloyal, in preparation for the dread day when war was declared. If it had not been for the prevision of this allegedly disloyal party we should not have had a uniform to place upon a soldier’s back, or a rifle to place in his hands, when the Mother Country called upon us for assistance in 1914.
Senator Bakhap referred to the InterState Labour Conference, to be held in Perth on Monday next. He practically based his charge of disloyalty against the Labour party on what might be done at that Conference. I have disposed of his charge of disloyalty so far as we on this side are concerned, and those outside this Chamber responsible for sending us here. But the honorable senator was not content with charging us with disloyalty. He repeated the charge, basing it upon what might happen next Monday in Perth, or during the sittings of the Labour Conference there, which will determine the future policy of the Labour party. The honorable senator’s remarks were, to my mind, gratuitous and unfair, and were not in keeping with the attitude he usually adopts when referring to any matter at all.
Let me say now what my views are on the important question of the war. We are assembled to-day in the Senate chamber, when the destinies of this Empire are trembling in the balance. We have had almost four years of war, and we find that the enemy to-day is back at the spot, if not beyond it, from which he was driven almost four years ago.
– I think that he is somewhere about the spot from which he was driven four years ago.
– The honorable senator is very nearly right.
– I can remember reading about the battle of the Marne in 1914. Is not the enemy back there now ?
– He is closer to Paris now than he was in 1914.
– He is closer to Paris, as Senator Guy reminds us, than he was four years ago. Therefore I say that we are assembled in this chamber at a time when the fate of our Empire is trembling in the balance. Speaking as a humble member of the Australian Labour party, I say this: I would like to see the sword sheathed to-morrow.
– Now, if it could be done with honour.
– Say with safety.
– I say with honour, to the Empire and her Allies. To talk of peace at the present time is of no avail. This is not the time for us to talk about peace.
– What! After what Senator Gardiner said?
– I am speaking now for myself. In my view, when the enemy is in possession of the territory which he now holds it is not the time, so far as we are concerned, to talk about peace. That is my position, and I shall stand to it. It is true that I have opposed, and will continue to oppose, the policy of honorable senators opposite, so far as the conscription of human life for the war is concerned. Australia has done well by her voluntary effort to assist the Mother Country in this devastating war. I am still a supporter of that voluntary system. I am one of those who think that we should goon. until we can get peace with honour and with victory.
– Hear, hear! That is the word - with “victory.” That is what is wanted.
– I did not think it necessary to add the word “ victory” when I said peace with honour, because I think that would involve victory.
– Great Britain had a peace with honour with Germany before, but did not secure safety.
– It was not a peace with honour at that time.
– It is only by victory that we can guard against a recurrence of the German atrocities which began ‘this war.
– I think .that tlie real object desired by every one in waging this war to a victorious conclusion is to prevent a recurrence of such a dreadful carnage again.
Referring now to the matter mentioned by Senator Gardiner yesterday of the continued detention of men who have served the sentences imposed upon them, under the Unlawful Associations Act, the Leader of the Senate (Senator Millen) said that they were being detained in accordance with the law. The law says that they may be deported in addition to the sentence of the Court.
– And until the means to deport them are available they may be detained.
– I give the honorable senator the benefit of that, but I am under the impression that he did not quote the law correctly. That is what I intend to refer to. I understand that Moyle and Barker were prosecuted under the Unlawful Associations Act of 1916.
Section 6 of that Act provides that-
Any person, not being a natural-born British subject born in Australia, who is convicted of an offence under either of the two last preceding sections, shall be liable, in addition to the punishment imposed upon him for that offence, and, either during, or upon the expiration of the term of his imprisonment, to be deported from the Commonwealth pursuant to any order of the Attorney-General.
Following on that we had the amending Act of 1917, section 4 of which provides -
Section 6 of the principal Act is amended by omitting the words “ not being a natural-^ born British subject born in Australia,” and by omitting the words “ either of the two last preceding sections,” and inserting in their stead the words “any one of the last three preceding sections, and who fails to satisfy the
Attorney-General that he is a natural-born British subject born in Australia.”
What I want to know from- the Leader of the Senate is whether either of the gentlemen I have referred to have been given an opportunity to prove that they are natural-horn British subjects. One might conclude from their names - Moyle and Barker - that they are natural-born British subjects.
– Born in Australia?
– I did not say that.
– That is the Act.
– That is the Act, but have they been given an opportunity to prove that they were born iu Australia ?
– The Minister did not say so, and that is why I think the law is being strained. There is no getting away from the fact that they have served their sentences, but are still detained. The Minister might let us know if they have had an opportunity of proving whether they were bom in Australia or not. Until they have had that opportunity they are being illegally detained in prison.
The Acting Minister for the Navy (Mr. Poynton) is reported to have said a few days ago that there is a scarcity of mechanics in Australia to carry on the shipbuilding programme, and that he was at a loss where to get them. I think he also said that a number of mechanics who would have been of great assistance in the Commonwealth shipbuilding scheme had gone to London as munition workers. It is true that a number of boilermakers, carpenters, joiners, and others went to England to assist at munition making; but will the Government take precautions that, in future, none of our mechanics are allowed to go away as munition workers or to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force? They should remain here to assist in our shipbuilding sememe. That ships are wanted every one admits. Every man who can assist in building a ship, particularly fitters, boilermakers, carpenters, or upholsterers, should .be kept iu Australia to assist in that work.
– Hear, hear ! They would be helping to win the war.
– They would be helping to win it just as effectively as if they were in France, with rifles on their shoulders, or working in a munition shop in any part of Great Britain. I trust the Minister will inform the Senate whether the Government intend to keep mechanics of the grades I have mentioned in the Commonwealth, so that our shipbuilding scheme may be carried out.
Mention was made of the Recruiting Conference, and we were told that the Government were doing everything that was promised there. But no one who reads the Acting Prime Minister’s letter to the Leader of the Australian Labour party, a3 published in this morning’s press, can say that the spirit of that Conference is being carried out. One or two statutory rules which were objectionable, certainly, it is promised are to be repealed; but the agreement has not been observed with respect to the great bulk of the “War Precautions Regulations. In Fremantle, members of the “Wharf Labourers’ Union are still suffering. Although it was thought that, in pursuance of the Conference agreement, they would get employment, they have not been reinstated. The men who took their places during the recent strike still have preference.
– Notwithstanding that it costs from 25 per cent, to 40 per cent, more for that labour.
– That is true. Can those men be expected to be enthusiastic about recruiting whilst they are idly walking the streets of Fremantle, and other men, who took their places during the recent industrial dispute, are earning the money which should go to them? Those other men are physically fit to go to the Front and fight; but they do not volunteer for that purpose. They volunteered to take the work of the other men on the wharfs.
– One returned soldier in Launceston was refused a job on the wharf until he joined the other union.
– I believe the same thing has happened in Western Australia. It is an undoubted fact that many of the waterside workers in Fremantle are still being victimized, despite the agreement reached at the Recruiting Conference. I do not wish to say anything that would prejudice recruiting. I am in favour of the voluntary system of recruiting; but I cann’ot expect the wharf labourers who have been displaced to be enthusiastic in securing recruits to assist us in the war whilst their present conditions continue.
Yesterday I asked the Leader of the Senate to review the question of the amounts paid to invalid and old-age pensioners. The maximum payment is 12s. 6d. per week. It is true that since the war began “the pension was increased by 25 per cent., the increase operating from the 30th September, 1915, but the cost of living has considerably increased since then. In many cases increased Wages have been given to meet the increased cost of living, but no such concession has been made to the invalid and old-age pensioners. In view of the great cost of woollen and other clothing, many pensioners are not able to obtain, particularly in the winter, the clothing which they need, and I submit to the Leader of the Senate that the Government might well review as early as possible the present scale of payment, with a view to increasing the pension to meet the increased cost of living.
I do not wish to join in the chorus of condemnation of the administration of the Defence Department. Almost every paper in the Commonwealth has been attacking the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) for his administration, principally in connexion with the ieport of the Royal Commission on the Department. I realize that the Minister is human, and so liable to err, and that the officers at the head of the different branches of his Department are also human and liable to err. ‘ The Department was suddenly faced with a situation that, perhaps, had not been foreseen. Early in 1914 the world was at peace, and the Department was jogging along under peace conditions. Suddenly it was faced with war conditions. Many mistakes have been made that probably could have been avoided, but others could not have been foreseen, and were unavoidable; but there is one statement of the Minister which I cannot understand. When replying to the report of the Royal Commission, and the criticisms levelled against his administration, he said that he was “ compelled to put into practice the principle of preference to unionists.” ‘ He gave that as a reason for some of the bad administration of his Department. He was Deputy Leader of the Opposition on this side of the chamber when Par- liament was dissolved on that very question. The Government of the day, of which Senator Millen was a member, brought in a Bill for the abolition of preference to unionists within the Public Service. Senator Pearce, as Deputy Leader of the Opposition, opposed that measure, and with the rest of us went out on the first penal double dissolution of this Parliament. He and my other colleagues from Western Australia fought the election on that very principle; but during the campaign I never heard the honorable senator say a word against it. We won, and came back with increased numbers. We held thirty-one out of the thirty-six seats in the Senate, and Senator Pearce again became Minister for Defence in a Labour Government. During all that time, until the party split, I never heard him say a word against tho principle of preference to unionists. Yet he says that he was compelled to carry out that principle. I cannot imagine it to be the same Senator Pearce at all. If the principle was bad, why did he support it? If during the period from 1914 to 1916, when the party was solid, he discovered anything wrong with the principle, he should have told us or the public; but it was not until the Royal Coinmission made its report on his administration that he said he was “ compelled ‘’ to give effect to the principle. I see no compulsion about it. The honorable senator had never shown any objection to the principle previously that I know of, either publicly or privately. The preference to unionists that he was “ compelled “ to put into operation, affected practically only clerks, men getting about 10s. a day. I do not see how the application of that principle in the Defence Department could be responsible for any faults in the administration.
I want now to refer to the question of meat prices. Senator Bakhap has declared strongly against price fixing, and I want to know why, after the Government appointed the Inter-State Commission to make inquiry into the price of meat, and having agreed .to carry out the recommendations of that body, the inquiry was re-opened. On 23rd October, 1917, the Commissioners, in Report No. 2, dealt with their investigations into the price of meat in Victoria, and on the 20th December. 1917, in Report No. 4, they dealt with prices in New South Wales and Queensland. It was then announced that. the Government, after consultation with the Chief Prices Commissioner, proposed to give effect to the recommendations which contemplated, as a maximum price for meat sold wholesale in the several capitals of the Commonwealth, a price on a parity with the Imperial contract price’ in Brisbane and Sydney. This statement was definitely made; but on tho 23rd February, 1918, as the result of representations made by a deputation which waited on the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in Sydney, a deputation representative of graziers and .other landed proprietors of the Commonwealth, the Prime Minister asked the Commission to re-open the question in order to provide an opportunity of fresh evidence being placed before the Commission. This was done, the expression, “ fresh evidence,” used in the Prime Minister’s letter to the Commission being interpreted to mean a complete re-hearing of the matter, though the Commission contended that all the aspects of the case had already been dealt with. Why, then, was there any necessity for a further inquiry?
– Do you object to an appeal against a decision of a lower Court ?
– No, I do not.
– Then, fresh evidence would be received by the Commission.
– I am not objecting to that at all. The inquiry was re-opened, and fresh evidence was taken, ninety-one witnesses being examined in the interests of those graziers and landed proprietors who had approached the Prime Minister. In the words of Senator Senior, an appeal was made, as it were, from one court to another - in this case it was the same court - fresh evidence was submitted, and again the jury - in this case the Commission - brought in the same verdict, declaring that the prices being charged to the consumers of meat should be at the export rate.
– They do not say that.
– The later report is more emphatic than the first.
– The first report recommended that the price be fixed on a parity with London wholesale prices.
– That is what is recommended in the last report, which is more emphatic than the first. Seeing that the Commission has recommended that a certain action should be taken, what is the reason for the delay? The Government have made an announcement that they intend to fix the price at certain export rates, but a number of conditions attach to the statement made by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt), and before it adjourns this Parliamentshould know the full facts. The Acting Prime Minister has given no details whatever, and though the Leader of the Senate (Senator Millen) has been asked on two or three occasions during the past few days to make a definite announcement as to what really will be the price of meat, he has not supplied the information. I notice that next week another deputation will wait upon the Minister controlling food prices. The Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) was approached the other day and asked to receive a deputation, but he passed the matter on to Mr. Greene, Minister controlling price fixing. When shall we reach finality if deputations are to follow one upon the other like this, with the object of producing fresh evidence, after an inquiry and re-investigation by the Inter state Commission ? In the meantime, the people of Australia are undoubtedly paying more for their meat than they should pay. My honorable friend will not deny that.
– I do not deny it.
– Then why should not the Government give effect generally to the second report of the Commission? And why should not Parliament be taken into the confidence of the Government in this matter? This Parliament, I presume, will go into recess shortly; we shall then have no control over the Executive. If the Government are sincere in their desire to relieve the strain on the consumer of meat, they should tell the people, through Parliament, what they are going to do. We have been informed that Nero fiddled while Rome was burning, and, in this matter, it appears that the Government are fiddling with the price of meat while some people in Australia, if not actually starving, are unable to procure meat at a reasonable price. There are many homes in Australia to-day without meat, and there are many children who never see it.
– You have a very vivid imagination.
– If the honorable senator will take a walk with me I can conduct him to homes, not a mile from Parliament House, where meat -has not been seen for three months.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– I was referring, prior to the adjournment, to the case of a family which had not been able to purchase meat for some three months. Several honorable senators rather doubted the veracity of that statement. I was not drawing on my imagination. That case came under my own notice, and there are many other homes in Australia similarly situated. I was quoting, the circumstances of a man drawing a weekly wage of £3, and having a family of four. ge was paying a rental of 15s., and was unable to purchase meat either for himself or for his children. If honorable senators care to inquire they will find many such instances not far from Parliament Buildings.
In connexion with the second inquiry, the Commission examined another big batch of witnesses. Not only did it adhere to its first report in all particulars, but it was more emphatic, in the light of its additional evidence, that the price of meat should be upon the level of the London parity. To-day we have fighting for us members of the Australian Imperial Force. They are so designated officially; but there is another construction that can be placed upon those same letters, and that is, “ Australia’s Invincible Fighters.” Such they are, but they have left wives and children behind them, and no honorable senator can deny that the children of many of our soldiers fail to receive the meat which they should have, because their mothers cannot afford to purchase it. For that reason it is the duty of the Government to deal effectively and immediately with the price, and to inform Parliament of their intentions before the adjournment.
In response to what I may term the challenge of Senator Bakhap, I shall now give a quotation concerning the “small man.” The Commission states in its report -
It was common opinion that the grazing industry has never been so prosperous, more particularly for the mixed farmer and “ the small man,” as it is now; but it was contended that in some instances the losses of the year of drought had not yet been overtaken, and that the present prices should tie left available as a compensation for the past and security in case of an adverse future. Figures are quoted later tending to show that the industry - viewed as a whole - has already recovered the losses of the drought year, and if meat prices are now fixed on the basis of ordinary season conditions, the position might be reviewed in the face of any calamity, such as drought, just as the railway systems frequently carry starving stock free or at reduced rates.
Upon an examination of a number of pastoralists’ accounts in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, it has been found that, coupled with the recent good seasons, the high prices of meat and of wool have resulted not only in the losses of tho drought being overtaken, but in such profits being made that, taking the losses of the drought with the profits since, the four years 1914-1917 (both -inclusive) show a better total position than the previous four years.
There is an indication that the producer is not suffering, and will not suffer, if the price of meat is fixed, without any reservation and without any other conditions, at London parity. I will make one further quotation -
Another argument was that the capital value of the flocks and herds of the Commonwealth would be seriously lowered by a reduction in the price of meat.
The prosperity of the pastoral industry, however, depends not on calculations of the capital value of stock, but on the actual income derivable from that stock from year to year.
Further, the argument overlooks two important considerations. In the first place, values have been raised to their present level in great part by the action of the Imperial Government in offering an unusually high price hoth for wool and for exported meat, and if the price realized for the latter becomes the price for local consumption, values will still be much above what they would have been but for the war. Secondly, it is equally certain, though not so obvious or so often voiced, that the real monetary value of Australian incomes and wages has been, and is, seriously lowered by the great increases which have taken place in the price of meat.
Similar considerations apply to the objection that bankers and other financiers would not advance to graziers as much, particularly for the future purchase of store stock, if the value of fat stock comes down. The answer is that the requirements in the way of loan will be correspondingly less.
The vital point of that quotation is that the incomes and wages of the people of Australia have been seriously lowered by the great increase in the price of meat. Take, for instance, the members of any organization, either within the Commonwealth Public Service or outside, who have approached the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court for an increase in wages. Assuming that an advance has been awarded, its value is lost owing to the people having to pay for their meat the extraordinary prices which have been charged for some months past. If the Government are sincere in their attempt to fix prices they should have taken action long ago. At least twelve months have passed, and, despite the fact that two reports have been presented by the same Commission, the Government are inactive. Although I do not believe in hanging up Supply, if my vote could stop the granting of three months’ Supply just now, I would use it to that end until the Government saw fit to inform Parliament of their real intentions.
I desire to refer to a matter on behalf of Senator Barnes, who has had to depart for Western Australia. He has received a letter from a constituent in connexion with the price of secondhand bags, and has asked me to bring the matter before the Minister (Senator Russell). The epistle states - , The. Government fixed the price of new cornsacks, without making any attempt to fix the price of secondhand bags. This is the class of bag that the commercial parasite is waxing rich upon. New bags are quoted in last Saturday’s Argus as follows: - Fixed wholesale price, Oil. Cd. j delivered rails Melbourne, and retailed, 10s. The prices charged by agents such as A. M. Greenfield and Co., Brophy, Foley and Co., and other agents who do business in thu Ballarat district for secondhand bags, is Us. 3d. per dozen, or 3d. per dozen less than the bags arc originally sold for at the wharfs. ‘ .
– How old is that letter? Secondhand bags have been fixed at 6s. for nearly a fortnight.
– The honorable senator’s remarks are very interesting, and I think we should have a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– I was referring to the price of secondhand bags. Senator Russell now informs me that the price has been fixed at 6s., instead of at 9s. 6d.
– It is the first time that the price has been fixed, and that was a fortnight ago.
– The date of this letter would coincide with that time. If the Minister assures me that the fixed price is about 6s. I will not pursue the subject further.
– I give the honorable senator that assurance.
– One other point which I desire to make has reference to the Defence Department. I have before me a letter- published in the Australian, which is the official organ of the Returned Soldiers Association of Western Australia. The letter is headed “ Dissatisfaction at the Base Hospital,” and it reads -
Sir, - I was pleased to notice in the last issue of the Australian that attention was drawn to the hours worked by the clerical staff at the Base Hospital. This is a matter which has called for redress for some considerable time, and it is up to the E.S.A. to see that some alleviation of the present hours worked is necessary. Soon after my discharge I applied for clerical work at the War Council, and was offered work at No. 8, which I accepted, but the hours worked were altogether too long, and I soon applied for demobilization, so I can speak from experience. The hours there are from 6.30 a.m. to C.30 p.m. for seven days a week, and one.half-day leave.
Now, the question arises: Of what use is it to ask for decent conditions for returned men if the military authorities won’t grant a fair thing? It is quite common to hear the remark among returned men that they worked at the Base for a short while, but could not stick the hours.
Possibly the II.S.A. is too concerned in fighting outside employers to turn their eyes to this sort of thing, but it must be very patent to them that there is something wrong when over 200 men applied for demobilization at the Base Hospital last year. We hear a good deal about Labour trying to capture the returned soldiers’ voting powers, but they will not have to do much trying if this sort of thing continues. It is high time that some responsible official looked into the question of hours, leave, &c, for men on home service at this No. 8 Hospital, otherwise we may hear tell of a “ conference “ there any time. - Yours, &c,
North Perth, 7th May.
I have another letter bearing on the same subject which I shall not read, because I have no desire to unduly detain honorable senators.
– The letter which the honorable senator has quoted refers to the Base Hospital at Perth?
– No, to the Base Hospital at Fremantle. The complaint which it voices is one which is well worthy of consideration by the Government, and I hope that the desired redress will be given.
Yesterday replies were furnished to certain questions which I had asked concerning Commonwealth policemen. I inquired whether there are Commonwealth police engaged in our Commonwealth buildings, and if it is true that two constables were accompanying the Prime Minister- on his visit to the Old Country. The answers given were -
There is one special constable in the Commonwealth Offices, Melbourne. Two officers at present accompanying the Prime Minister were some time ago sworn in as special constables. They are performing’ duties in connexion with the visit of the Prime Minister to the United Kingdom.
It is surely remarkable that the taxpayers of Australia should be called upon to pay the expenses of two constables to accompany the Prime. Minister (Mr. Hughes) to the Imperial Conference in London.
– Why, one of them is his secretary.
– Then, why was not that information given ? Who is the other special constable?
– Give me the name, and I will. tell you.
– No names were supplied in the replies furnished to my questions.
– Has the Prime Minister’s private secretary been sworn in as a special constable?
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) says that he has. . I wish to know why special constables should accompany the Prime Minister to London?
– Perhaps he is a returned soldier.
– I do not think that the private secretary to the Prime Minister is a returned soldier. Does the Vice-President of the Executive Council say that he is?
– Then why does the Prime Minister require a special constable to accompany him to London at all ? There are other eminent men who will be present at that Conference-
– The honorable senator entirely misunderstands the position. The two officers mentioned are Mr. Deane, private secretary to the Prime Minister, and Mr. Corrigan, his messenger.
– They were private constables in Australia, but they are not special constables in England. I will undertake to say that the Prime Minister of Canada, and other men equally as eminent and as able, though perhaps not so voluble, as the Prime Minister of Australia, have not special constables accompanying them to London.
– We may be sure that they have.
– If the honorable senator is in a position to say that-
– I know something about the way in which such men usually travel.
– I believe in the Prime Minister of Australia travelling to such an important Conference with every possible assistance - a private secretary and a proper stall. But I do object to the taxpayer being called upon to pay the expenses of special constables to accompany him.
– Does not the honorable senator know that representative men are usually accompanied by private detectives when they travel in foreign countries ?
– I do not. Why should the Prime Minister have detectives with him? Is anybody going to assassinate him ? Are there any bold criminals along the track watching for him?
– Industrial Workers of the World ?
– I understand that there are none of them free just now. All members of that unlawful association are within the walls of prison cells. What then has the Prime Minister to fear from the members of the Industrial Workers of the World?
– What about the Sinn Feiners?
– I understand that they are not allowed to leave Australia - that they will not be granted passports. Nor am I aware that they are likely to be upon any train by which the Prime Minister will travel. To me, it is the height of folly to say that special constables must accompany the Prime Minister when he goes to the other side of the world on the business of the Commonwealth. I would very much like to see the famous Warwick hen put into a museum where all might see her. It was this hen which laid the egg that produced the Commonwealth Police Force.
– Would not the honorable senator like a policeman to sit upon the egg in order to hatch it?
– I would not like to see any more of the progeny of that egg. 1 hope hat the Minister, in his reply, will explain why two special constables are accompanying the Prime Minister to England.
I noticed in this morning’s paper that the Government are considering the advisableness of appointing a Minister of the Crown to represent the Commonwealth in London. That Minister, of course, would have Imperial Cabinet rank. I do not know whether it is the intention to appoint any such Minister to represent Australia in England. But if it is, the step, I submit, will be a wrong one. We already have a High Commissioner in England, who is able to fill the Bill in every way so far as the representation of Australia at the Seat of the Imperial Government is concerned. If the Ministry determine to send a Minister to London, and to seek his inclusion as a member of the Imperial Cabinet, it will involve an unnecessary expenditure. The High Commissioner can attend to the requirements of Australia in every way. I think that he is doing so, and doing it well. If the suggestion published in today’s newspapers be adopted, following on the statement of the Prime Minister in New York, that he deems it necessary to have a representative of Australia at Washington, we may possibly have to send a Minister to the United States of America.
– And to Canada.
– Yes. Goodness knows where the thing will end. I believe that Australia should be represented in Canada and Washington, as it is represented “in London. But I do not believe in sending a Minister of the Crown to London to be included in the Imperial Government. Any such step would involve an unnecessary expenditure. We should be appointing two men to do one man’s work. I sincerely hope that the Government will not take any such step as is indicated in this morning’s newspapers-
– We need some civil authority in London.
– I understand that the High Commissioner is a civil authority.
– He has no authority at all.
– If he has not the authority to fully and effectively represent Australia in London, it is the duty of this Parliament to give him that authority.
– He has no administrative power whatever.
– Then let us give him that power. It can easily be done.
– If he had administrative power, there would not be so many complaints there.
– I would much prefer to amend the Act under which the High Commissioner was appointed, so as to give that official the power to effectively represent Australian interests in London, than that a Minister should be sent to London to become part and parcel of the Imperial Government. If we adopt that course in regard to the Old Country, we shall have to adopt it in regard to Canada and the United States of America, where it is desirable that our interests should be represented.
I reiterate my regret at the inaction of the Government in connexion with fixing the prices of meat, and I again appeal to them, before Parliament goes into recess, to make a statement which will relieve the anxiety that is being so keenly felt in many homes throughout Australia. I appeal to them to say not merely that the recommendations of the Inter-State Commission will be adopted, but that those recommendations will be brought into operation at once.
– Some time ago the Government relegated to the Inter-State Commission the duty of investigating and reporting on the cost of meat. I find that the Commission carried out the duty and made the following recommendations to the Government : -
Assuming that the policy of price-fixing is to he applied to meat, the Commission recommends -
That the Imperial contract prices, less a deduction of fd. per lb. (freezing charges), be fixed as the maximum wholesale prices for meat in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth (including Fremantle), Hobart, and Launceston, such prices to include delivery by wholesaler, where, as in Sydney and Melbourne, that is the custom of the trade. In Adelaide, the maximum wholesale price for beef to be1/2d. per lb. higher than in the other cities named, the maximum wholesale prices for mutton and lamb to be the same as in those cities.
That the prices so fixed be used as a basis for fixing the price on the hoof of cattle, sheep, and lambs in the centres where there is no wholesale, meat trade. In those centres, an official declaration should be made of the maximum weights upon which the bidding is to be based.
Xo action seems necessary with regard to retail prices, which (the evidence shows) will conform to wholesale prices.
Office of the Inter-State Commission,
Melbourne, 4th May, 1918.
The question of the price of meat is one which attracts possibly more public attention at the present time than any other question. But, although those recommendations were placed in the hands of the Government on the 14th May last, they have, up to the present, done little or nothing to give effect to them. The result is that, rightly or wrongly, a considerable section of the people are of opinion that they are paying very much more for beef than they should be. called upon to pay. Senator Gardiner quoted for us the retail prices of beef sold in the State butchers’ shops in Brisbane, and while he was speaking Senator de Largie interjected that beef was sold at half those prices in Perth.
– I did not say half those prices.
– That is what I understood the honorable senator to say; but if he assures me that he merely wished to assert that meat is sold more cheaply in Perth than Brisbane, I am prepared to accept his correction.
It is somewhat difficult to ascertain what really are the prices charged for meat. There are a great many butchers’ shops in all the capitals of the Commonwealth, and while it is alleged that the butchers sell at exactly the same prices, an investigation will at once disclose the fact that there are many differences in the prices charged to the public. If meat is sold over the counter for cash the price charged may be fairly even over a number of shops in a particular part of a city. Meat sold on credit and delivered in small quantities may be more costly, and if delivered in larger quantities may be slightly cheaper. Further, in other parts of the same city, the prices may again be different because of the different conditions under which the commodity is sold. This is true, not of one, but of all the capital cities of the Commonwealth. In a personal effort to secure information on this subject, I was confronted with these differences, and in order that
I might place the true position before the Senate, I thought it wise to ascertain from our well-informed Commonwealth Statistican what the prices charged for meat really are.
In reply to an inquiry addressed to him by me, Mr. Knibbs has supplied me with a statement which, amongst other things, completely contradicts that made by Senator de Largie. I shall read the document, in order that honorable senators may have an opportunity of perusing it. In view of the fact that it was forwarded to me only to-day, the information it supplies may be taken as in every respect up to date. This is the document -
– Could the honorable senator tell us briefly the prices charged in Brisbane and Perth?
– I found the attempt to obtain personally, by visiting different shops in different capital cities, information as to the prices of meat, tiresome and unsatisfactory. But the information contained in the document forwarded to me by the Commonwealth Statistican is based upon returns supplied on the 15th of each month, by a number of recognised retail shops in each of the capital cities. The average prices are computed from those returns, and we may, therefore, safely conclude that Mr. Knibbs’ figures are correct. lt will be seen from the document I have quoted that the prices charged in the State butchers’ shops in Brisbane and those charged by retail butchers in Perth, are as follows : -
– Are those recent figures’?
– They are the prices for the month of April, 191S. It will be seen that the difference between the prices charged in the .State shops in Brisbane and the retail shops in Perth is about 2d. per lb.
– The figures quoted are absolutely ridiculous.
– The honorable senator cannot say that, because he cannot understand them. It is not possible for any one to understand them, as Senator Grant has given them to us.
– It might be quite impossible to read the figures in such a way as to make them comprehensible to either Senator Millen or Senator de Largie; but I venture to say that any one possessed of even an elementary education, and a desire to acquire knowledge on the subject, could easily comprehend them as I have put them. I have not the slightest doubt that, if he desired to do so, Senator Millen could grasp these figures in the twinkling of an eye.
– For a long time food, and .especially meat, has been cheaper in Western Australia than in any other part of Australia.
– I have quoted the figures of the Commonwealth Statistician, and they show that beef is about 2d. per lb. cheaper at the State shops in Brisbane than it is in Perth. I do not think that even Senator de Largie will, in his calmer moments, seriously dispute the information supplied -to us by the Commonwealth Statistician.
– Senator Grant was in Western Australia not long ago, and he must have discovered the cheapness of meat there. It has been notorious.
– The figures I have quoted are based upon information supplied from, I suppose, six recognised butchers’ shops- in Perth, in the same way as from shops in Sydney, Melbourne, and the other capital cities. The information may be unpleasant to certain honorable senators, but it has the official sanction of the Commonwealth Statistician. If that is true, and I have no doubt that the figures are as correct as it is possible to make them, then instead of squealing about the unpleasant position of Perth or other capital cities, we ought to admit that the work done by the Queensland Labour Government in /con ducting State butcher shops must appeal strongly to a great number of people. The average retail price of sirloin in Sydney is given as 11.15d. per lb. ; but. of course, it is frequently higher. There may be a difference of 2d. or 3d. per lb.
– Nobody pays exactly 11. lod. for it.
– That is the average” price.
– The .15 pence in the retail trade troubles me.
– No; what troubles the honorable senator is that while in Sydney the average retail price of sirloin of beef is 11.15d., in the State butcher shops in Brisbane it is 6.50d., a. difference of nearly 5d. per lb. The same disparity in price is evident throughout the return. In these circumstances the Governmenthave been excedingly negligent in not dealing with the report of the Inter-State Commission. What is the good of the Commission if its work is to be ignored ? It is a body of highly-paid intellectual gentlemen, who devote all their attainments to the elucidation of problems of this kind. The Government have no time to do it themselves, and when they get a report of this character they are apparently afraid to take action. If they are afraid, the sooner we find it out the better. . If the Queensland Government can provide its people with sirloins of beef at 6£d. per lb., it is surprising that the residents of Melbourne have to pay 10.45d., or the residents of Sydney, 11.15d. In round figures, the difference between the prices in Melbourne and Brisbane is 4£d., a sum which will easily appeal to the intelligence of Senator Bakhap. The Government of which he is a supporter sees the Melbourne public paying 4Jd. per lb. more for their beef than the residents of Brisbane have to pay, and does nothing. The honorable senator should, therefore, realize that the Government are not acting as they should act. If it is possible to reduce the price of meat - I do not say it is - the Government ought not to sleep on this report as they have been doing for the last fortnight. I place these facts on record to show that the Government are doing nothing whatever to deal with a very pressing problem.
The price of building material has gone up persistently for a considerable time past. The Deputy Prices Commissioner is conducting an investigation into this subject in Melbourne. According to a report which appeared in the’ Melbourne Herald of the 12th instant, a number of witnesses were examined, and their evidence was as follows: -
George Archibald Towers, of East St. Kilda, said the cost of erecting a six-roomed weatherboard house had increased 20 per cent, since 1914. A house which cost £700 to build in 1914 could not now be built under £850. Witness considered Queensland hoop-pine and Australian hardwood superior to Baltic pine for flooring. Baltic pine had increased from lis. to 25s. 100 feet.
A man in the building trade who keeps record of the cost of materials is in a good position to let the public know exactly what it cost him a number of years age and what it costs him to-day. That witness, Walter Attenborough, of Armadale, put in the following comparative table of cost of materials: -
The report states -
Mr. Attenborough considered that the cost of building had increased 33 per cent.
Alexander Younger, Caulfield, estimated the increased cost of building at 50 per cent Timber had increased 100 per cent. More brick than wooden houses were being built. He would say that 75 per cent, more brick houses were now being erected than in normal times. The increased cost of colonial tiles was great. Two years ago tiles were to be had for £7 a 1,000; now the price was £20 a 1,000. The cost of a “square” (about 100) tiles had increased from 32s. 6d. to 57s. 6d. Galvanized iron was almost out of the market.
Robert Irvine, of Coburg, said building prices in Melbourne were lower than those charged in Sydney and Adelaide. He did not consider the present prices of weatherboard houses unreasonable.
The above evidence shows the enormous increase’ that has taken place in the price of nearly all building material from 1914 to 1918. Apparently the prices are continuously soaring. If they keep on accelerating at their present speed we may expect them to advance in proportion in the next four years. Probably the most glaring advance of the lot is that of galvanized iron from 2s. 9d. to 13s. If the Government can fix prices, here is a direction in which their activities should have been directed. It . is either a case of inability or unwillingness on their part to tackle the question.
We were furnished with a return the other day showing the names and salaries of the price-fixing staff, and the total cost of tho Department. What is the good of having those people doing this kind of work if the Government take no heed of their reports ? If the Government acknowledge that they are unable to fix prices, we shall know where we are. I am not satisfied that the Government can fix prices in a satisfactory manner; and if they admitted their inability to do so, no particular harm would be done. Up to date, so far as I can make out, the Government have paid little or no attention to the reports of Inter-State Commissioners or of the Prices Commissioners. If the Government are going to treat those reports as waste paper, those gentlemen should be transferred to some other branch of the Commonwealth Service, where their efforts would be appreciated. The rise in the price of building materials is most serious, particularly for those engaged in the building trades, and for people who want houses.
– That inquiry is being conducted by one’ of the best men who ever graced your party. It is very unfair of you to make these statements, because he has not concluded the taking of evidence.
– I am not questioning the ability of the Commissioner to fossick out information. It is easy to summon a contractor, and get him to turn up his records to show the cost of building material four years ago and today; but my trouble is that, after appointing the Prices Commissioners, after they have done their work, and submitted their report, the Government treat it as so much waste paper.
– I was controlling the Department for eighteen months, and in that time I never turned down one recommendation from the Commissioners. You have no right to make assertions like that, because they are absolutely incorrect.
– Galvanized iron that cost 2s. 9d. in 1914 now costs 13s. What is being done about that?
– It cannot be got at all.
– There is a considerable quantity in Australia, but the people who hold it have been permitted by the Government week after week, if not day after day, and even hour after hour-
– Again, that is untrue. The price was fixed twelve months ago.
– Yes, at £56 per ton; and to-day it cannot be bought under £90 per ton. It can be bought at that figure, despite the fact that the Government” fixed the price at £56.
– If the fixed price is £56, the man that pays £90 for it is a fool.
– What if he cannot get it unless he pays £90? Although the price is fixed at £56, if you want to buy iron you must pay £90 before you can get it. If the Government find they cannot fix the price of commodities of this kind in a way which will be observed, they should inform’ us to that effect; but we have expensive Price Fixing Commissioners calling up people from their usual avocations to give evidence, wasting their time and the time of the Government, and no effective action is taken.
– Have you any evidence of men paying £90 per ton for galvanized iron? ^
– No direct evidence.
– I wish you would supply me with instances. We would prosecute the offenders.
– If the honorable senator looks at the trade records in the press, he will see galvanized iron quoted at £86 and £90 per ton. I doubt very much whether you could get it at that, because it is being held for a still further rise. If 2s. 9d. was a fair price in 1914, the price should not be much more today, because it is not much more ex- ‘ pensive to manufacture now than it was then, and there is very little extra freight. But those who possess these commodities simply charge what they like for them.
– The freight on galvanized iron has increased 900 per cent.
– A sheet of galvanized iron occupies only a very small portion of a ton of shipping space. Even an increase of 1,800 per cent, in freights would not have justified the proprietors in putting up the price from 2s. 9d. to 13s. The Government are quite impotent to deal with problems of this kind. In fact, they make no serious effort to deal with them. Meanwhile, the whole of the materials required for building purposes have gone up out of all proportion to the necessities of the case. The same advance has not taken place in wages. Wie find that in 1914 carpenters were paid 12s. 8d. per day, and to-day they receive 13s. 4d. - a merely nominal rise, and scarcely worth consideration. Labourers in 1914 got 9s. a day, and at present their wages are 12is. a day - again a small rise. In the same time galvanized iron has risen from 2s. 9d. a sheet to 13s., and the same proportionate increase is reported in practically all materials required in the erection of modern buildings.
– It is impossible to buy a circular saw for bush work in Melbourne at the present time.
– Of course the Government are to blame!
– That may be so, and perhaps also the Government may be blamed.
– I know of a man who had to pay £90 for a saw for bush work. It is practically impossible to get steel work now.
– I am aware that the price of all commodities, and especially of edged tools, have gone up considerably, but. the cost of articles required for the production of the commodities I have mentioned have not been interfered with to a very great extent. It is a fact, however, that the quantity is somewhat limited, and the people who own it can put the price up to any amount they like.
– I should advise you not to use timber as a subject for your argument.
– Does the honorable senator say that Baltic timber should have advanced in price from 12s. 6d. in 1914 to 25s. per 100 feet to-day ? ‘
– You know it cannot be got at the present time.
– Does the honor able senator say that hardwood should advance from 12s. to 19s.?
– There is the same difficulty - want of shipping.
– But the hardwood is here. Shipping is not required to bring it down from Gippsland. The fact is it ha3 gone up in price, in sympathy with the imported material, and as I said before, there is no justification at all for the advance. The Government, I believe, find it difficult to fix prices, but in some cases this should be an easy matter. For instance, a Labour Government established a woollen factory at Geelong, where they carry on all the operations required in the production of 16-oz. khaki, which costs them 6s. per yard. In such circumstances it was quite easy for the Government to commandeer the whole output of the woollen mills in’ the Commonwealth, and to fix the price, because, with their own experience of costs to guide them, they could say to other manufacturers that it was of no use trying to get any more out of the Government, as they knew what the manufacturing cost was. I understand, also, that the private manufacturers were delighted when, after a time, Government orders slackened off, so that they were able to resume manufacturing for private consumption, because they were not able to get the extra profit from Government contracts. In that case, of course, it was easy to fix prices, but when the Government attempted to fix the price of galvanized iron and Oregon, as well as other commodities or materials required for building purposes, they were not in a position to say what was a fair thing, as they had no knowledge.
– Galvanized iron and Oregon are poor materials for your argument.
– They are good enough to flog the Government with.
– They are good enough, for I can show that prior to the outbreak of war galvanized iron was sold at 2s. 9d. a sheet. With all their pricefixing machinery, the Government are not able to do anything to bring the price down to a normal level.
– Leave iron and Baltic pine alone, because so far as galvanized iron is concerned, you could not buy it at any price.
– The honorable senator should not make a mistake like that. There are large quantities of it in the Commonwealth. Quite recently a notice appeared in the Commonwealth Gazette intimating that all holders of galvanized iron must disclose the exact quantities in their possession, and I am sure the honorable senator will be surprised when he finds out what enormous quantities are held in Australia.
– We import our own iron from America. It is 22 gauge, lighter than the ordinary iron. We require it for covering our wheat stacks, and it costs us £55 per ton landed in Melbourne.
– Suppose there was a direct land tax in operation, would the honorable senator then require pricefixing machinery?
– If I were to answer that question, the honorable senator would ask another. I am not going to answer it now. I realize the difficulties of price-fixing, and I remember that on
One occasion, when the New South Wales Government fixed the price of butter at ls. 3d. per lb., there was no butter available.
– And it is likely there will be no meat available in some places.
– It must not be thought that if a man is in a position to grow wheat, or produce beef and mutton, he is under no obligation to do so. I think that if a man owns land, and is_ in a position to supply these commodities, there is a duty cast upon him to do so in the interests of the public; that he has no right whatever to do anything to prevent the production of these commodities. In New South Wales, and I think the same applies generally over the Commonwealth, if a person discovers an alluvial gold-field he is entitled to commence operations straightway, but he cannot spread himself all over the field, and if he does not work his claim it may be “ jumped “ by any other person who desires to work it.
– That is the established law in New South Wales to-day. A .man cannot sit down doing nothing month after month and year after year.
– You are presuming to lecture us on questions that you do not understand.
– I know the analogy does not suit Senator de Largie very well ; but that is the position. A man who discovers an alluvial gold-field may peg out his claim, but he must work it within a certain time.
– He must comply with the labour conditions.
– Just so. In other words, he has to work the claim.
– He need not work it.
– But he has to comply with the labour conditions, and, therefore, must work it. But at present a man who secures land suitable for wheat-growing or grazing purposes may put a fence around it, have no stock whatever upon it, and put it .to no use whatever. Wheat-growing, dairy farming, and pastoral occupations are much more profitable than gold-mining, and perhaps one of the reasons why beef and mutton are dear is that those who hold land suitable for these industries may, if they choose, do nothing with it. I emphasize the point, however, that if a man is in possession of suitable land he has a duty to society which he should not be permitted to neglect.
– Whether he loses money or not?
– Senator Bakhap the other evening made some comments with regard to the Labour party. . I think he called them disloyal. We have been so accustomed to statements of that kind that, generally, we treat them with contempt.
– Did he call the Labour party disloyal ?
– I am of the opinion that he did.
– Senator Bakhap was here this morning, when I asked him again, and he agreed that he. had called the party disloyal. I gave him every opportunity to qualify his statement, but he did not.
– It is a fair conclusion, then, that the Labour party would be responsible for the diminishing number of recruits during the past year or so. But I want to tell Senator Bakhap and other honorable senators on that side ex actly how the matter stands. They are the disloyal, pro-German, anti-British people whose conduct is responsible for the diminishing number of recruits. That is my honest view of the position.
– You are not worth replying to when you make a statement like that.
– The abuse showered on the loyal workers of Australia by people on the other side has been responsible for the diminishing number of recruits. I wish to place upon record the totals of enlistments, not for a day or two past, or for a month or two, but through the whole period of the war.
– How much have you done to gain enlistments ?
– I have done a very considerable amount. I received this morning from tha Defence Department an up-to-date statement which will clearly show that it was during the time the present Government have occupied the Treasury benches that recruiting slumped. The public do not believe in the Winthewar Government, who secured their position by fraud and misrepresentation, and all that kind of thing. The public have no faith whatever in them.
– You are a good judge of that kind of thing, anyhow. You should know all about it.
– We had an election right in the city of Melbourne only yesterday, when Joe Hannan walked into a seat which the other side thought was one of their own little pickings. All the forces on the other side, including the press, were behind his opponent. Despite that, however, the Labour nominee came in easily on the first count.
– With a diminished majority compared to the last election figures.
– How does the honorable senator know the nature of what the s’econdary votes, would have been ?
– What about tho election of a month ago?
– I will confine my comments to the election for Albert Park. Despite all that honorable senators say against the Labour party, here, right in Melbourne, and right up against the Trades Hall, our nominee walked in quite comfortably, never turning a hair. He C0111d have beaten the other man by 2 to 1 if he had cared to extend himself.
– He went down at the Federal elections.
– That is ancient history. I will now quote the return showing the total number of enlistments.
It will be remembered that the so-called Win-the-war Government, in effect, commenced operations on 14th November, 1916, on which date the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) left the Labour party. Up to that time the total enlistments in the Australian Imperial Force was 268,451.
– The best men went first.
– The loyalists- the greater part of them, men of the working classes. These are the men who enrolled themselves voluntarily during the time when the Labour party controlled the affairs of the country. What happened afterwards ? In October, 1916 - the last month in which the Labour party held the Treasury benches - enlistments totalled 11,520. Then began the campaign of misrepresentation and abuse; and in the following month the figures dropped to 5,055..
– What was the influence at work then?
– Tt was the abuse and everlasting scandalizing of members of our party by the press of the country and all of the anti-Labourites rolled into one. That is the main reason why the reduction took place. In December of that same year the figures dropped to 2,617. Then, for the next seven months the average was slightly over 4,000 but it fluctuated down as low as 1518.
Recently an effort was made by the GovernorGeneral to bring together the various forces in the country. A Conference was held to ascertain what was the matter. Many employers and a large number of workers were represented. An endeavour was made to smooth the way to the cessation of the campaign of abuse and misrepresentation, and to ascertain what was responsible for the diminishing number of recruits. Representatives on our side asked that certain things should be done to bring about a better understanding. Some of those things were carried out, but not very many of them. We were promised by the various Governments that certain further things would be done. What has been the result? Even upon that promise, the enlistments last month numbered 4,888 - the largest total since March, 1917. That increasing number of recruits is entirely due to the fact that, perhaps, on the initiative of the Government, the GovernorGeneral invited delegates to the Conference, when the whole subject was discussed in a reasonable manner, and the abuse campaign was for the time, at least, forgotten.
– I do not think it is fair to let the honorable senator get away with that. It was due to the Government withdrawing the necessity for minors obtaining parental consent.
– I do not know that it is due to anything of the kind.
– Then you do not know anything about it.
– I know that the Conference made an effort to stem the torrent of misrepresentation and abuse; and that it has temporarily stopped it, with very good effect.
– It had nothing to do with it.
– It had everything to do with it, and my opinion is of very mu,ch more value than that of the honorable senator. One would think that Senator Newland had a perpetual right to throw out- slanders and abuses. I do not want to abuse anybody. I have a considerable objection, but I can be vigorous as any other honorable senator when necessity arises. I listened to Senator Bakhap throwing off his insinuations against this party, ad lib. I did not mind his doing so, because it disclosed his real opinions. But his remarks, and those of other honorable senators on that side, repeated as they are through the press of Australia, are doing more to diminish recruiting than anything else I can imagine. It is recognised that one can do a number of things with Australians, but they cannot be bullied into doing anything. The sooner honorable senators realize that the better for all concerned. They should treat their opponents in a fair and gentlemanly manner, and keep their inimical abuse entirely to themselves, or else honorable senators on this side will fmd themselves obliged lo retaliate occasionally, much as they may regret to do so. These facts show conclusively that, from tho moment this “Winthewar Government, or rather this Winthewarelection Government, took office, the recruiting figures commenced to decline. A Director-General of Recruiting was appointed, who protested against the appropriation by the Ministerial party of the “ Win-the-war “ title. One of the members of that party, more honest than the rest, said that it was out to win the war - the electoral war - and that that was what the title was intended to convey. No sooner had the Government attained the Treasury bench than the figures for recruiting dropped from 11,000 per month to 5,055 the following month, and they never touched 5,000 from that time until May of this year. The substantial advance made during that month was mainly due to the effort of the Governor-General - and, perhaps, of the Government - to suppress the abuse which has been showered upon the Labour party during the past two years. If the Government continue to adopt that policy, if they learn to speak the truth, the people of this country will continue to respond to recruiting appeals in the way that they have hitherto responded. But Australians will not he bullied in any way whatever. I have put these facts upon record, because it seems to me that they will bring home to the people of this country a realization of what is the true position. That position is that ever since the Government was returned to office, recruiting has been in a bad way, and the sooner they leave the Treasury bench, the sooner will it be restored to a satisfactory level.
– Is that the honorable senator’s price?
– I have no price.
The other day the Minister for Repatriation offered, if I would provide him with a return showing the area that is devoted to the production of fruit iu this country, to supply mc with the unimproved value of the land upon .which those orchards are situated. Accordingly I have ascertained from the Government Statistician that the value of the production of the orchards and fruit gardens of the Commonwealth for 1916-17 was £3,774,704. I shall bc glad, therefore, if Senator Millen will supply me with the value of the land that is occupied by these orchards. I may tell him that the productive acres under fruit total 177,120, and tho unproductive acres, S0,567; a total of 257,687 acres. I shall be glad if the honorable gentleman will supply me with the unimproved value of these lands, so that, when the apple-growers come to this Parliament for assistance, we shall be able to ask them how much land they own, and whether it is fair to tax the workers of this country in order to give them a subsidy? I hope that the Minister will supply me with the desired information at an early date.
I trust that my few remarks will induce the Committee to favorably consider the request made by the Government that we should grant them Supply for three months. I hope that, during the recess, they will devote attention to the question of the meat supply and also of the excessive cost of building materials, with a view to giving the country a square deal.
Senator SHANNON (South Australia) [4.b”. - 1 shall not occupy much time, but I would like to preface my remarks with an allusion to the world-wide conflict which is now raging. Yesterday the Leader of the Opposition in this Chamber (Senator Gardiner), during the course of his address, quoted what Mr. Fisher said that Australia would do in thi3 great struggle, and added that that gentleman’s utterances meant that he put Australia first. I am sorry that Senator Gardiner has left the chamber, because I do not think that Mr. Fisher’s statement was intended to apply only to Australia. I believe that he took a wider view of the position, and that his remark was intended to include the whole British Empire. If Senator Gardiner and his friends put Australia first to the exclusion of Empire considerations, they will be making the greatest mistake of their lives.
– The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in his speech at the Recruiting Conference put Australia first.
– I am an Australian bora, and I may be an Australian first, but I am a Britisher all the time, because I realize that Australia would be absolutely impotent but for the long arm of -the British Navy. If she were left alone she could not survive twentyfour hours, for the simple reason that this is an island continent, and our Navy would be quite unable to protect our long coast line, which embraces some thousands of miles.
– There aTe other reasons why we should be proud to belong to the Empire.
– Undoubtedly there are. 1 am merely pointing out to those who think that Australia should stand alone, tWat she would be quite unable to do so if she were not protected by the might of the British Navy.
– “Who said that she could stand alone?
– Many persons have said so. I desire honorable senators to realize that if Australia attempted to stand alone she would be unable to do so for many generations to come. I deplore quite as much as does the Leader of the Opposition the awful results that are flowing from this dreadful war. It is a terrible thing to reflect that at the present moment the world is busily engaged in devising the most scientific means for destroying the best lives of the nations of the world, and in piling up a mountain of debt, which will have to be repaid later. When these truths are brought home to us, we must deplore the awful cataclysm that we are now witnessing. But I cannot understand the view-point of those who advocate peace by negotiation. Are we going to allow all the brave lives which we have sacrificed to be sacrificed in vain? Is Prussian militarism not to be crushed? I have no hesitation in saying that if a peace by negotiation be arrived at, those brave men who have paid the supreme penalty in fighting for freedom, will have given -their lives in vain. The only course open to us is to fight on to the end.
Although I cannot follow the whole of the meanderings of Senator Grant, I say that the recruiting figures which he has quoted are most eloquent. When he affirms that from the moment the Government took office, recruiting began to decline, and continued to decline until the Recruiting Conference, which was recently held at the Federal Government House, my reply is that from the moment the Win-the-war Government took office honorable senators opposite have done their best to retard recruiting. That is what the figures conclusively show. So far as that Recruiting Conference is concerned, I would give the other side everything that it wants if its members would whole-heartedly help us to win the war. If we do not win it, what will bo the use of Australia to us? We shall be in the position of the Irishman who said, “ What the devil is the good of that to a man when his wife is a widow?” After the war has been won it will be time enough for us to deal with our own internal troubles.
I wish now to say a word or two in regard to price fixing. I have always opposed price fixing in every shape and form, and I fail to see that it has accomplished very much good. The InterState Commission has submitted several reports, in which it outlines a scheme under which the prices of meat may be regulated. Those reports are based upon the assumption that the flocks and herds of Australia have attained their normal dimensions. I have failed to follow their figures, although I have looked into them very closely. The first error into which the Commission fell was in assuming that the figures relating to the number of stock in the Commonwealth in 1913, represent the number that we should possess under normal conditions. I say this for the very sufficient reason that 1913 followed two years of drought in Australia. So that the Inter-State Commission based their figures on false premises. What are the facts? I shall not take the maximum figures. We have to go as far back as 1890 for the maximum figures for sheep in Australia. I find that, in 1890, the number of sheep in Australia was 97,881,221. Those are the highest figures for sheep that are available. I believe that, in 1901, the number of sheep in Australia reached 102,000,000, but those figures do not appear in the Commonwealth Year-Book. We had a drought in Australia from 1901 to 1903, and that again reduced our flocks and herds so that they scarcely reached normal figures in 1911. There was another drought for two years in 1911 and 1912, which further reduced the figures, and the Inter-State Commission have taken the figures for 1913 as normal figures for the flocks and herds of Australia. I say that that is not a fair basis on which to build any conclusion.
– What were the figures for 1913? .
– In that year the number of sheep in Australia was 85,000,000.
– The Inter-State Commission only showed the increase since then.
– That is not all that I take from the Inter-State Commission’s report. What they have tried to do is to induce the people of Australia to believe that to-day our flocks and herds are normal, and we are therefore in a position to fix prices for meat.
– We recovered the losses from drought in 1914.
– The figures taken by the Inter-State Commission do not cover the losses from the drought in 1911 and 1912.
– The Commission say they do.
– I do not care what theysay. My contention is that their figures are wrong. I go further, and say that some parts of their report are not only fallacious, but idiotic. They have taken the figures for 1913 as representing our normal flocks and herds. I contend that it would have been more correct to take the figures for 1911, when we did get back to something like normal conditions. If we take the figures for 1911, we shall find that, in that year, there were 93,000,000 sheep in Australia. In 1916. the latest figures available, there were in Australia 76,668,604 sheep, or a deficiency of 16,334,917. Having fixed 1913 as giving the normal figures, the Commission were not satisfied to take the latest figures available, as supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician, who is admitted to be a reliable man, competent for his position. They squared the ledger by saying that, in 1913, there were 85,000,000 sheep in Australia, and there is the same number to-day. If that is the way in which they square the ledger the sooner their report is relegated to the waste-paper basket the better for themselves and the people of Australia.
– The report has been in the waste-paper basket for some time, and is likely to remain there.
– That is the best place for it. It is a most misleading document, as it would induce people to believe that we have now reached normal figures for sheep, when, as a matter of fact, we are 16,000,000 short of normal figures.
Now, as to the figures for cattle. I find that, in 1911, we had 11,828,954 head of cattle in Australia. In 1916, the latest year for which figures are available, we had 10.459,237, showing a deficiency in cattle of 1,369,717.
– The honorable senator, from his experience, fixes 1911 as the normal year for our flocks and herds.
– Our figures were scarcely normal then, and were a long way short of our maximum figures, because the drought from 1901 to 1903 re- duced our flocks and herds very materially.
– The honorable senator says that we must go back to 1901 for the maximum.
– No ; we must go back as far as 1890 for reliable figures of the maximum of our flocks and herds in this country.
– And there were no sheep in Western Australia at that time.
– And practically none in the Northern Territory. I say unhesitatingly that if Australia- could carry 98,000,000 sheep in 1890 we should be able, in 1918, to carry at least 120,000,000 sheep. In the interval, millions of acres of land have been brought under cultivation, and the carrying capacity of the country has increased from 10 to 25 per cent. According to the latest figures available, we have not more than 76,000,000. It is absurd, in the circumstances, for the Inter-State Commission to tell the people that we have now reached normal conditions, and are in a position to fix the prices of meat.
The Commission suggest that the price of sheep and cattle can be fixed on the hoof. I have had a life-long experience, and have always been considered a fairly good guesser of the weight of live stock. Some people call it judgment, but at the best it is only guessing. Honorable senators are aware that at agricultural shows there are sometimes guessing competitions, and people often go very close to the weight of a beast; but in most of those cases there is something more than a guess. It is not difficult to guess nearly the weight of a beast. If half-a-dozen men each guess a weight and put it on paper, and you take the average of the half-dozen guesses, it will not be surprising if you go very near to the actual weight.
– Is there any really reliable rule of arriving at the live weight of a beast?
– The only reliable way is to put the beast on the scale. You can put your rule over them, and your eye over them, and your finger under them, but the only test is to put them on the scale.
– What about having a weight reader for every stockyard?
– We should require something more. It would be necessary to have a man who was also a judge of quality. There, is a great deal of difference in the quality of beasts. A man who knows nothing of the business might go into a yard and see a fine old sheep, one of these cross stags with a back broad enough to lie upon, and he would say, “That is a fine sheep; it is worth £3 fully.” There might be in the yard another sheep, a beautiful wether not half the size, but which, because of its quality, would really be worth the £3. The first animal would only be tallow, and the second meat of good quality. Unless a man is an expert in the business he may make a very great mistake even in deciding upon the quality of meat.
The Inter-State Commission -make a suggestion for increasing the flocks and herds of Australia. This is a part of their report which I say is so absolutely ridiculous as to border upon the idiotic. They say in this report, so fearfully and wonderfully made -
A well-known breeder of stud sheep- found that the demand for rams could not be supplied (the Iwanoff system of artificial increase of sire power not being practised in Australia).
They put an asterisk to this to direct attention to a footnote at the bottom of the page, which reminds me of Senator Grant’s frequent suggestion to honorable senators to spend 6d. on the purchase of Henry George’s works in order that they may learn something of land taxation. Here is the note -
See Davis’ Impotency, Sterility, and Artificial Impregnation, 1917, pp. 101-2. Most of those who keep ‘.horses and jacks for breeding purposes make use of the impregnator - to permit of the impregnation of a number of females without too great a drain upon the male. Instruments for the purpose are sold by all veterinary Instrument dealers, and the technique is so . simple that any one can perform the operation.
The Inter-State Commission advocate the use of this instrument to increase the flocks and herds of Australia. I do not know whether any members of the InterState Commission are experts in its use, but in their report they have overlooked the natural course, which must be followed before any increase can take place.
L can imagine one of the members of the Inter-State Commission being an expert in the use of this instrument, and venturing into a paddock in Queensland containing 100 heifers, for the purpose of increasing the herds of Australia. I can imagine what his experience would be from some of the Queensland cattle I have seen. It is probable that a heifer would put one of her horns through him before he was able to do anything. Imagine this man with this instrument going into a paddock with a flock of 500 ewes, and arranging for 525 lambs straightway! The whole thing is absurd on the face of it. An instrument of this kind is of use only in stud stables, where it may he applied with very great care. It is claimed that its use has been successful in America, but a number of things are claimed ta be successful in America which, when used in other parts of the world, do not bear fruit. If honorable senators seriously consider the figures which the Inter-State Commission have submitted, and the trash which I have just read from their report, they will see that the proposal that the Government shall fix the prices of meat is absurd. I have said that I do not approve of the Government fixing of the price of anything, because Australia is not the first place where this has been tried, nor are the members of this Government the first people to try it. They were not even the first to try it in Australia, because the price-fixing business is a legacy handed down by the previous Government.
– The policy has been pretty successful in Queensland.
– I shall deal with the prices of meat in Queensland shortly.
– A person by the name of Nebuchadnezzar had a shot at it a year or two ago.
– Prior to his time Diocletian undertook to fix prices to prevent his people being exploited by unscrupulous persons.
– He was a long while after Nebuchadnezzar.
– At any rate, so far as recorded history shows, Diocletian was the first who really made a serious attempt to do something in the way of fixing prices. The result was that he closed up every place of business in his domain ; the streets were deserted, and the grass grew on the footpaths. If Australia is not careful she may have the same result.
We want Australia to produce as much as possible. The only solution of the high cost of living is in the one word “ production.” Unless we produce more than the people want, the people will have to pay more for it. As soon as we can overtake the consumption with production, so soon will the cost of living come down, and not before.
– It has been overtaken in the case of meat long ago.
– Does the honorable senator know the consumption of meat in Australia for 1913?
– I know the production is far more than the consumption.
– Then the honorable senator knows what is wrong, because in 1913 the consumption of mutton alone was over 14,000,000 sheep, and in beef over 2,000,000 cattle. Those were the numbers slaughtered in Australia, according to the Tear-Book.
Sena>tor Lt.-Colonel O’loghlin. - We have been an exporting country always.
– Yes, when we have a surplus, but not unless. Why are we asked to single out this section of the community for the fixation of the prices of their commodity 1 It is a most difficult thing to do in any case. To-day the prices are regulated under the m’ost scientific system that I know of. When the flocks and herds of Australia are brought into the yards, and sold at public auction, does ‘any honorable senator think that a butcher is going to pay more for stock on the hoof than it is really worth, simply for the sake of paying it? Any one who thinks so does not know much about the butchers or the butchering business of Australia. They do not pay a penny more than they have to pay in public competition for the animals they require.
– That competition is faked. I know it.
– No matter what arguments one puts forward, there is always some “ fake “ about it. I ask the honorable senator to attend any public auction saleyard of stock anywhere in Australia. He will find that he has just as much right as any one else to compete for any beast submitted for public competition.
– I would not get much “show.”
– The honorable senator would get as good a “show” as any one else. I am speaking, not from hearsay or from claptrap, but from personal experience, and I pledge my word to the honorable senator that he would have just as good a deal as the biggest butcher in Australia if he bid at my ring. I believe the stock agents of Australia are a most honorable lot of men, although I know there are “black sheep” in all trades. Probably there are one or two in the honorable senator’s trade. When stock is scarce buyers come from all over the States, and they do not pay a penny more for it than they have to. There are times of the year when stock is not so high in value, but in Australia during the months of May, June, and July stock is always at a high premium. We invariably find that in those months stock comes in from the outside country. The reason is that the prices induce the outside growers to send their stock in, because the return is sufficiently remunerative to cover the extra charges for haulage and droving. No sane man will say that stock-owners will not take the prices to be obtained in the open market to-day. Any one who is deluding himself with the idea that the owners of flocks and herds in Australia are holding for still higher prices should get that delusion out of his head, or he will be a fit subject for somewhere else.
– What is the object of charging people in Australia more for their meat than is charged to the people of other countries?
– I shall come to that matter later. If the price of meat is fixed, what will be the result, seeing that the Government have made an arrangement with the Imperial authorities to take the Australian wool clip for the duration of the war and for twelve months thereafter at a flat rate of ls. 3d. per lb. ? I give the Government every credit for arranging that deal.
– Is not that price-fixing?
– It is a straightout sale at a flat rate. If some arrangement of that kind were not made the new clip would be coming in. With all the accommodation in Australia full of wool, as it is now, we would have no buyers, and the result would be disastrous to Australia. The sale of the wool clip on the terms arranged by the Government is <i very different proposition from fixing the price of meat. If price-fixing of meat reduces the price of stock much below what obtains in the open market to-day, owners will not send their stock to be slaughtered. With that price offering for wool, it will pay them better to keep their stock and shear them, if they have the feed to keep them on, and no one could blame stockowners for taking that course. Scores of people who have the feed would be purchasing stock to-day but for the rumour that the price of meat is to be fixed. No man will buy stock to-day if it is likely to fall in value during the next fortnight or month. He would sooner let his feed rot for a month, and buy when the market is lower. The result is that, instead of that feed being used to fatten sheep for the month, it is rotting, and the sheep are being kept comparatively starved as stores. That is the first effect of the price-fixing idea in Australia. If cattle and sheep come into the market in less quantities in consequence, what will be the effect of this policy on the people? I do not know myself. I leave it to the price-fixers, the men on the other side, to tell us. I venture to predict that if the policy is carried out, the people of Australia will go hungry for meat. Thank God, there is plenty of other food to be bought in Australia at reasonable prices. What has been the result in Queensland ? That State has done a wonderful stroke of business. It is the principal part of Australia where cattle are grown, and the only part where cattle can be really grown profitably. There may be a few other places in New South Wales, in the north of South Australia, and the north-west of Western Australia, but we always look to Queensland as the cattle country of the Commonwealth. There they can produce a bullock for 2s. 6d. that it would cost from £3 to £5 to raise in the settled areas of Australia to the same size of killable quality, although, even then, not to as good a quality as when it left the station in Queensland. Yet those people in Queensland say, “ We have the cattle. We belong to the Federation, but we are not going to let you have any of our cattle to eat.’’ An embargo was put on the export of Queensland cattle to other parts of Australia. I believe that has been partly lifted, -and <that cattle are percolating through to other parts. Were it not for the cattle from Queensland, South Australia would have to starve for beef. The Queensland people are a very clever people. Their Premier (Mr. Ryan) is a statesman, according to report; but I call him one of the most pettifogging politicians in Australia, from the -way in which he has handled the meat industry in Queensland.
– The people of Queensland do not think so.
– No, because they have cheap meat; and at whose expense? At their own expense, and they do not know it, because they have to be taxed in some other direction to make up the deficiency. The Queensland Government made an arrangement to let the Imperial Government authorities have meat at 4d. per lb., but they reserved to themselves the right to take out meat at 3£d. per lb., and so rob the people of Queensland of the difference between 3d. and 4d. Honorable senators call that statesmanship. In plain language I call it stealing - pilfering from the people the rights that belong to them. It means taking from the producing community of Queensland something over Id. per lb. for their meat. It is no darned wonder that the Queensland Government can give their people cheap meat when they do that kind of thing! I do not want to see it done anywhere else in Australia. I am not a prophet, or the son of a prophet, but I venture the opinion that by the time the proposed price-fixing policy can be brought into operation, seeing that we are having a splendid lambing season, and that during the last twelve months everything .possible has been done to increase our flocks and herds, prices will be beginning to come down, as they always do in Australia in September, October, and November. It is likely, then, that credit will be claimed, for this price-fixing authority, for having brought down the prices of meat; and I want to put this’ statement on record on this 14th June, before pricefixing is adopted with regard to the meat industry. It has been asserted that the Queensland Government have done a great deal for the production of meat in Australia. Well, what have they done? .
– Given the soldier’s wife a bit of cheap meat.
– They have not increased the herds of Queensland bv a single hoof. If they had really wanted to do something to increase the herds of
Queensland, instead of going about in a pettifogging way buying up stations that were already stocked, they should have opened up and stocked fresh country. That is the solution of the difficulty with regard to high prices.
– How many years would it take to produce stock on a new station?
– Four years. But I would point out that the stations which the Government have bought would still have gone on producing stock, and in four years’ time the country which could have been stocked by the Queensland Government would also have come into profit. If they had adopted that course, they would have been doing something practical to increase the herds of Australia.
I want to remind the Government, also, that a vast area is available in the Northern Territory for this purpose. It was handed over to the Federal authorities by the people of South Australia, on the understanding that it was to be linked up by a north and south railway in order that its resources could be developed. That was one of the first things to be done.
– No, not one of the first things; but that it should be done eventually.
– I shall not retract one word of what I have said. The understanding^ was that the Territory was to be linked up by a line of railway.
– What use did South Australia make of the Territory?
– Why was it handed over to the Commonwealth?
– It was a bad bargain.
– Because South Australia could not do anything with it.
– That is absolutely the position. It was too big a proposition for South Australia. I am surprised at Senator McDougall’s ignorance. He says it was a bad bargain ; and I reply that if the Commonwealth put the Northern Territory into the markets of the world to-day at ls. per acre, the return would pay for the whole of its debt. What are we doing with it? If the Commonwealth Government intend really to grapple with the question of developing the Territory, they should link it up /with a north-south railway, because it is not the policy of Australia to populate the Territory by people from the north ; and so it is essential that railway facilities should be provided in order that population may reach it from the south. If the Government would only face the situation in a business-like way, and if the money could be found, practically at any cost, it would pay to put this work in hand in order that the almost unlimited areas* of magnificent cattle and sheep country could be occupied. ^ A policy such as that would do something for the development of Australia.
– It is worthy of consideration.
– It is the only solution of the Northern Territory problem. In Queensland, also, there is a vast area of good country at present unoccupied, and in the Northern Territory table lands there are millions of acres at present not carrying a single hoof, but which, if properly managed, could grow food, not only for the people of Australia, but for the people of the worM.
– But would it not be better to link up the Queensland railway system with the Northern Territory ?
– No; because if the Commonwealth intend to develop the Territory by the establishment of flocks and herds, they should be brought to their destination by the most direct route.
– “Well, it seems to me that it would be better and quicker to link up the Northern Territory with the Queensland railway system.
– But the Commonwealth Government must carry out their contract.
– That is another matter. The honorable senator was talking about the development of the stock-raising industry.
– The more direct the route and the quicker that stock are got to their, destination the better. The honorable senator is going in an opposite direction to that in which I want to lead the Senate. I want the Senate to consider the question of meat production, not only for our Allies across the water, but in order that the people down here may get a cheap joint. Meat is far too dear in Australia at present. It seems ridiculous that in a country like this we should have to pay ls. 3d. per lb. for beef and ls. for mutton, while a turkey may be bought for 9d. per lb.
This position has been brought about, not because we have exported too heavily, but because the Almighty has seen fit to withhold rain from Australia periodically right throughout her history.. It appears that, as soon as we reach a normal condition in the producing industry, Australia is overtaken by droughts, with most disastrous results to our producers. In this connexion our meteorologists occupy an important position. It is essential that they should supply reliable information. I remind the Senate that just before the 1914 drought overtook Australia people had been led to believe that after 1912 seasons would gradually improve, because 1913 was better than 1911-12. There was a general impression that Australia was over the drought period, and on the road to prosperity again. Had our meteorologists been worth their salt in prognosticating seasons, they should have at least been able to foretell that 1914 would be a year of drought, if not the greatest drought in the history of Australia ; but instead of that, the people were led to believe that, they could look forward to good seasons. I venture to say that had stock-owners been advised they would have been able to conserve sufficient fodder from the 1913 harvest for all requirements, and that we would not have lost a single hoof in 1914. I hold it is the duty of every legislator to impress upon the rising generation that drought conditions may be expected at regular intervals. One does not require to be a prophet or a meteorologist to foresee what is likely to happen. Our history shows that we may expect, with some degree of certainty, that Australia will be visited by a drought somewhere between the years 1922 and 1924, because these abnormally dry seasons appear to recur at intervals of from 7 to 10 years. But I am satisfied that Australia is so prolific, both in regard to the production of flocks, herds and cereals, that if we could take time by the forelock, and by making adequate provision for water conservation, we could effectively guard against all droughts. Water conservation is the prime consideration. It should be pointed out to the rising generation that they cannot do too much in the way of water conservation. We have our great “ Nile of Australia,” and for years we have seen one State squabbling with another as to which should have the greatest use of its waters. Then, just when we were having low rivers, we came to the conclusion that the Murray must be locked. That is just another instance of being too late. The history of Australia points to this : that we can look for another big flood on the Murray some time between the present date and 1920. Every indication points to a greater flood within that period than even last year’s record. People said the flood of 1870 would never again be reached; but, owing to what is being done now by way of deviation channels and the like, it is more than probable that the high mark of the 70 flood will be exceeded before long. The rising generation should be taught to make every provision both for droughts and for floods. Some parts of Australia have suffered in the past from excessive rains. To the people who have suffered I tender my sympathy; but I assure them that it is much better to be washed out than to be starved out; and, for all the damage done by floods in Australia, the total has been a thousand-fold exceeded by drought.
Having ventured tho opinion that price fixing will not have the desired result, I repeat that the watchword should be “ production.” Every man with a backyard of his own can do something towards production. Australians can do much more in regard to economic production than they have yet attempted. We should do nothing by legislation to hamper the production of commodities. The most effective way to hamper the man on the land will be by this price-fixing business. After all, our labours here are only to get a bit to eat and something to put on our backs; we cannot carry anything away with us. Yet we are worrying about fixing prices at a time when our granaries are full to overflowing, when the people are better off than ever, and when the only thing that is a little bit expensive is meat. And because of that, an InterState Commission is appointed, which, as the result of its investigations, makes ridiculous and idiotic recommendations, whereupon the price of meat is to he fixed. I trust the fixing will be delayed until things have naturally regulated themselves.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [5.6]. - My colleague is not enthusiastic about price fixing, except where it is to the advantage of the producer or the salesman. When the system is applied to bringing down the cost of living to the consumer, he holds that it is all wrong. I propose to give a few extracts from the Inter-State Commission’s reports to show that it has based its conclusions on sound lines. I regret that the Government have displayed indecision in putting the report and recommendations into practice. When the Commission made its earlier reports, it was understood that the Government would adopt them. However, influence was brought to bear, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) referred the subject back to the Commission for further investigation. The result has been to confirm in every particular the previous findings. These are now substantiated by additional evidence, and the objections urged against the earlier conclusions have been met in an absolutely conclusive manner.
I am surprised that Senator Shannon had the temerity to bring forward the matter of the Queensland embargo again. It has been shown to be a myth. The Inter-State Commission dealt with it in its report (No. 4), from which I shall quote. In an earlier report, misled by the prevailing opinion, and by certain ex parte evidence taken in Victoria, the Commission was inclined to look upon the embargo as the reason for the enhanced price of meat. However, that body has now made the amende honorable, in the following manner: -
In the first part of this Report, sent in on 3rd October, 1917, the Commission, acting upon the only evidence then before it, emphasized the restriction on the transfer of store cattle from Queensland to New South Wales and Victoria as one principal factor in raising the level of prices throughout the southern States. Hie evidence taken in Melbourne was unanimous and clear on this point, but in Sydney figures were submitted by Mr. J. B. Cramsie, who appeared for the Graziers Association of New South Wales, which showed that the so-called “ embargo “ has not had the effect ascribed to it, and the Commission accordingly withdraws the comments made upon evidence, which now proves to have been erroneous, except as to the charge of 10s. per head for permits and as to the preventing of fats from crossing the border. At the same time, the Commission would add that the impression was bona fide and universal among stock men as to the embargo having starved the markets of Sydney and Melbourne.
I shall not quote the statistics -which follow with respect to the crossing of stock from Queensland. They show, conclusively, however, that the embargo did not operate to prevent the free access of cattle into the other States. It is satisfactory that the ‘Commission has been candid enough to admit its original error, and to place on record its emphatic opinion.
– How can it get over the fact that stock was not permitted to cross the border?
– The Queensland Government offered to supply South Australia at the same price as they were selling in Queensland, and to despatch as much beef as the southern State required.
– That was frozen meat. We did not want that; we wanted the cattle.
– The honorable senator knows well that Mr. Blundell, then a Minister of the South Australian Government, imported meat from Queensland, and that he was sued at the instance of the Metropolitan Abattoirs Board, on the ground that he had imported meat which had not been slaughtered in the abattoirs and passed by its inspectors. The abattoirs are the reason for preventing a lower price being obtained by consumers in Adelaide and South Australia generally. The Labour Government at that time took steps to amend the Act, so as to overcome the trouble, but, unfortunately, they were blocked by the Legislative Council.
– That does not touch the question of the live stock coming through from Queensland into South Australia.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.In the report, the honorable senator will find full statistics of the stock crossing the Queensland border, and he will see that a greater number were sent out of the State after the so-called embargo came into operation than was the case previously.
One of the reasons given for the high cost of meat has been the increased cost of labour. I will put on record what the Commission has said in respect to that. On page 22 of this report, No. 4, under the heading, “ Answers to questions,” it says, concerning Queensland, “ Increased costs of labour and material are not important factors in the rises since 1914.” Senator Shannon called into question the attitude of the Commission in taking 1913 as its basis on which to make comparisons. That is the usual method, namely, to take the year before the war as a basis for all comparisons since the war began. I propose to show by means of this interesting report how some of the operators in Sydney have been working, with a view to keeping up the prices of meat, and how they have formed combines for that purpose. In its report the Commission refers in scathing terms to the operations of Mr. T. A. Field. It says, on page 29 -
Evidence was given that the firms controlled by Mr. Field bid ostensibly against him. As he is a station-owner in a large way of business, and commands such an influence over retailers, his interests lie in keeping up the price of meat and stock as obviously as those of the retailers lie in their coming down.
It is impossible to determine exactly how far this partial monopoly of the wholesale trade has kept up prices; but the facts as to the supply in the State given above, as well as the universal impression in the trade, make it clear that one chief reason why retail prices are so much higher in Sydney - the main killing centre of a great stock-raising State - than in Melbourne or Brisbane, is the hold the combination has over retailers, and its sympathetic action towards pastoralists sending stock to the markets.
Upon page 2S of its report the Commission states -
Mr. Field, having thus admitted that Morgan Ford was “ practically Mr. T. A. Field,” he was questioned about evidence before the Royal Commission (1912). In the evidence given before that Royal Commission, Mr. Morgan Ford had sworn (evidence, page 110, question 4666 et seq.) that he had no connexion with Mr. Field, was not financed by him, and had no business relations with him, except in getting a little advice. It was all “ purely imagination that Mr. Field had any control over his business.” He even told Mr. Braddon, a member of the Commission (question 4774), that he had a little capital of his own. “ I have not been,” he said, “a poor man all my life,” and he proceeded to give the sources from which he derived his capital. A month later, before the same Commission,- Mr. Field swore (question 6487) that he believed Mr. Morgan Ford purchased the business of Miller and Company. Mr. Field admitted to the Chief Commissioner that when he so swore, he had read the gist of Mr. Morgan Ford’s evidence. As has been already shown, this evidence imposed on the Royal Commission, who said (page 33) : - “ In the competition which ensued, Miller and Company lost money and sold their mutton business to Mr. Morgan Ford, who had been manager for them.” In view of the deliberately false evidence of both Morgan Ford and T. A. Field before the Royal Commission, the Chief Commissioner drew the attention of the Attorney-General of the State to what had occurred (the testimony having been given before a Royal Commission of the State), and invited him to consider whether both these witnesses should be prosecuted for perjury.
In the sequel to the evidence the statement is made -
There is a wise maxim in the Courts, “ Never intrust the lamb to the wolf.” The Government of New South Wales found that they had made this mistake with the beef and mutton, as well as the lamb.
It proceeds -
It is interesting to note that in an address to the retail butchers, on the 31st October, 1913, on the striking achievements of the pool, Mr. T. A. Field said: “One of the greatest results is that one of the biggest gangs of bandits which ever existed in this or any other State, that is, the Australasian Meat Industries’ Employees Union, has been compulsorily disbanded.”
We were told during the recent industrial disturbance that the Government had no desire to crush unionism. But in view of the extracts which I have read, I leave it to honorable senators to say who were the bandits - the Pool or those whom they succeeded in .crushing. I do not think that any honorable senator desires a reduction in the prices of meat with a view to compelling the graziers to sell at anything less than a fair profit. Why, the evidence given by the graziers themselves is that the rate recommended by the InterState Commission will pay them handsomely. There was quite a number of witnesses who admit that, but I shall content myself with quoting only one of them, in the person of the Treasurer of South Australia, who is himself a farmer and grazier. In his evidence he said -
I should say, under ordinary conditions, the Imperial contract price is a payable one.
That is the tenor of the testimony of all the interested parties.
– Did the honorable senator see in the Adelaide newspapers the other day what the Treasurer of South Australia says now?
– Yes. But I have quoted his evidence upon oath, and that evidence is supported practically by the testimony of all the graziers who appeared before the Commission. I now propose to read a few ex tracts from the re-investigation report of the Inter-State Commission. It says -
The present prices of meat for home consumption in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia, are about 100 per cent, higher than the prices in 1913.
I believe that the accuracy of that statement has been questioned. It has been urged that the prices ruling at present are only SO per cent, higher than those which obtained in 1913. But even if that be so, the profit is still a very considerable one.
The Imperial contract prices, after deducting §d. per lb. for freezing, are about 65 per. cent, higher ‘than the prices ruling in 1913. That is to say that the meat producers are now getting 65 per cent, higher prices than they obtained prior to the war, notwithstanding Senator Shannon’s denunciation of the proposal to “ rob “ them. The report continues -
If the meat slaughtered in that year had been sold at the prices now suggested, the increased return to the grower would have been £13,500,000.
The adoption of the Commission’s recommendation, therefore, will mean that next year the growers will receive £13,500,000 more for their stock than they would have received prior to the war. In the face of these facts it is idle to talk about the “ robbery “ of the producers. The Commission’s report proceeds -
In Queensland the Imperial contract prices reduced by the arrangement with the State Government referred under heading, “ Imperial contract prices,” are unquestionably accepted as satisfactory.
According to the evidence placed before the Commission, the Queensland graziers are satisfied with those contract prices.
In New South Wales, export under the Imperial contract prices, which has never altogether ceased in either beef or mutton, has been resumed as to mutton on a fairly large scale. In Victoria the fair inference from the evidence is that the export of mutton and lamb will reach normal proportions in a few months’ time.
The Imperial contract price for wool, as compared with the pre-war prices, gives an increased annual return per sheep of not le’ss than 4s. per head.’
In the light of these figures the poor men, who, according to Senator Shannon, are about to be remorselessly robbed, appear to- he doing pretty well. A good many persons would be very glad to be robbed in the same way. The report continues - Every pastoral witness questioned on the point during the re-investigation, admitted that the Imperial contract prices would, in normal seasons, be payable to the producer.
There is no desire to impose any disability on the grazier, but it is reasonably urged that in a time of acute stress like the present, when the public are making great sacrifices, no particular body of men should be allowed to make abnormal profits. They should be satisfied with reasonable profits. We know that at the instance of the pastoralists the first recommendations of the Commission were reconsidered. Yet the Commission says -
Every pastoral witness questioned on the point during the rc-investigation admitted that the Imperial contract prices would, in normal seasons, be payable to the producer.
On these facts it seems to the Commission impossible to avoid the conclusion that, considering the Commonwealth as a unit, the home consumption equivalent to the Imperial contract prices would, be fair to producers as a basis of prices for home consumption.
Those who question the recommendations of the Commission have not attempted to controvert its figures.
I entirely agree with Senator Shannon that in view of the immense liabilities we are incurring the salvation of our country lies in the encouragement of production. I think that the prices recommended by the Inter-State Commission are sufficiently high to encourage stock production. But so far as wheat production is concerned, I think there is room for greater consideration for the wheat growers. Important as the production of stock is, I hold that it is better for the community generally that land adapted for the purpose should be under cultivation rather than under stock. A great many of the wheat producers of South Australia are very much dissatisfied with the management of the Wheat Pool by the Government. I was strongly in favour of the Pool. I thought that, during this time of war, when shipping must be practically under the control of the Government, only the Government could satisfactorily deal with the marketing of wheat. In the circumstances. I am rather disappointed with the way in which the Government have bungled the business. They have done as the New South Wales Government did in Sydney in dealing with meat. They put the matter into the hands of middlemen and interested parties, and for a long time gave the wheat farmers no representation in the management of the business.
Later on, when one member of the Board was nominated by the farmers, he waa prevented from having a free say in its deliberations.
– The honorable senator is quite in error.
.- I refer to Mr. Clement Giles.
– The inquiry the honorable senator is speaking about was a State inquiry by a State Committee.
– I am dealing with the management of the Wheat Pool by the Federal Government.
– There has been no inquiry by the Federal Government.
– What control has the Federal Government in the matter?
– None over what is required in South Australia.
.- I am glad of the correction. My remarks must apply to the State Government, and the way in which they have mismanaged their share of the business. So dissatisfied were the farmers and settlers with what had been done that they formed an organization of their own, and a political organization at that. They ran candidates at the last State election, and the President of the Farmers and Settlers Association was one of those elected to the State Parliament at that election.
A number of explanations have been given for the disparity between the price of Australian wheat in Australia, and the price realized for it on the other side of the world. The Minister in charge of the Wheat Pool pointed out that the disparity is accounted for by the high cost of freight.
– What I did was to give particulars in reply to a question by Senator Gardiner.
-. Colonel O’LOGHLIN- I do not think that the disparity in price has been satisfactorily cleared up. New Zealand is practically the same distance from the Home market as Australia, and must have the same difficulty in obtaining freight, yet the wheat fanners in New Zealand can get 5s. 9d. per bushel for their wheat, whilst the farmers of Australia get only 4s.
– No; they can get 5s. 9d. per bushel in New Zealand, too.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.How is it that the farmers of New Zealand can have that price guaranteed to them by the Dominion Government, whilst the farmers of South Australia have to take so much less for their wheat?
– There is no South Australian wheat sent to New Zealand that is not paid for at the rate of 5s. 9d. per bushel.
– But only a very limited quantity of South Australian wheat goes to New Zealand.
– We cannot help that. Outside the British Government contract there is no part of the world to which we send wheat to-day where we do not get the existing world’s rates. “
– One of the greatest difficulties which the farmers have to contend with is the shortage of labour.
This brings me to the question oi recruiting. I was very pleased to see the increase in the number of recruits during the last month or two. It was the result, I think, particularly of a better feeling engendered by the GovernorGeneral’s Recruiting Conference, and partly by the number of minors who for a time were admitted to the ranks. But I say candidly, as I have always said, that I do not think there is any possibility of the Government obtaining the numbers stated by the Chief Justice of the High Court that we require, namely, 5,400 a month. I do not think that if we had conscription we could maintain that rate of reinforcements for more than a very limited time. I do not believe that the men are available, when we consider the number who must be retained for the carrying on of absolutely necessary industries and production in this country. I want to read a statement which may interest Senator de Largie, as one of the representatives of Western Australia. It is contained in a paragraph which I read in the South Australian Advertiser of 11th June, which was headed “ Coloured Labour for Western Australia.” This is the statement -
The Royal Commission of Agriculture, Perth, in a final summary reports - “ The prime difficulty in all parts of the State is the shortage of agricultural trained labour. Production_ is decreasing. Not only is further clearing impossible, but as the cultivated area shrinks the retreating ploughs are_followed by scrub, and unless immigration on a large scale can be definitely expected, the introduction of indentured coolie labourers to undertake manual work of agriculture which Australians will not undertake will be forced upon us, if we are to meet our responsibilities. The only other way we can hold the land with little labour will be the introduction of stock among farmers.
There is a nice prospect for honorable senators who have stood for the fundamental principle of maintaining a White Australia. This Royal Commission on Agriculture in Western Australia says that the introduction of indentured coolie labour for the manual work of agriculture will be forced upon us.
– To take the place of the men who have volunteered for active service abroad?
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.The Commission says that the only other way in which the land can be held with little labour is by the introduction of stock among farmers, which means the land going out of cultivation.
I have a few words to say on the subject of the detention of persons charged under the Unlawful Associations Act, and on the question of internment generally, of aliens and those of alien descent. I brought this matter before the Senate on a previous occasion with particular reference to the case of Edward Moyle, who has been interned from South Australia.
– Is he a naturalborn subject of the King?
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.He is a Lancashire man. I understand that he has been thirteen years in Australia, and I know that he was for eight or nine years in South Australia. ‘ There is no criminal record of any sort against him. He was a member of the Industrial Workers of the World Association, and had been the secretary of that organization. Some of the papers of the Association were found in his possession, and that seems to have impressed the Government with the idea that he was very prominent in the organization. He stated in evidence that for some time before he was arrested he had not been connected with the Association, and that there was no organization of the kind in South Australia.
– Has he had an opportunity to prove that he was, or was not, born in Australia?
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.He does not claim that he was born in Australia. A sentence of six months is provided to meet the charge on which he was convicted, but on the evidence placed before it the Court apparently did not consider the charge a very serious one, and imposed a sentence of only four months. Moyle served that sentence long ago, but he is still in prisonwith many others. I contend that not only this man, but others referred to by Senator Gardiner, as well as internees and members of the Industrial Workers of the World, should be released unless the Government can produce some evidence against them.
– To whom?
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLINTo a Court. If the Government have any further charges to urge against them let them put them on trial, and let a Court say whether they should ‘ serve a further sentence. Ministers quibble in dealing with this question by saying that they are empowered under the Unlawful Associations Act to continue to detain these people. I did not contend that the detention after they had served their sentence was unlawful, but that it was unfair and un-British when a man had served his sentence to still detain him in custody. The case of members of the Industrial Workers of the World so detained is pretty hard, but the case of some of those of alien descent amongst the internees is harder still. The Industrial Workers of the World man has had a trial, and has been given the opportunity to bring evidence to rebut the charges made against him. Those of alien descent who have been interned have had no such opportunity. A policeman has come along and arrested them, and they have been interned without knowing who are their accusers or on what charges they have been arrested.
– Is the honorable senator referring to alien enemies?
– I think their case is harder still. A number of these people are citizens of Australia of Australian birth. In the internment camp they formed an Australian-born Internees Association, and I intend to quote from a letter written by a member of that Association to the secretary of the Labour party. The letter did not arrive at its destination for some time after it was posted. Inquiries were made about it, and it came to hand at last with the stamp of the censor, showing that it had been held up. I am referring to this case in particular, because it deals with men who are countrymen of mine in a double sense, since they are Australians and South Australians. It refers to a family named Dechert. There are four brothers, all South Australian-born, who have held positions under the Commonwealth or State Governments. Here iswhat the writer of the letter says -
In October last, when the proclamation was made calling up single men for military training preliminary to service overseas, Ave notified the Adelaide military authorities that our consciences precluded our taking part in overseas service against Germany, the land of our parents’ birth. Simultaneously we resigned the positions which we held in the Commonwealth and State Public Services of South Australia, quite realizing that it was anomalous for us to hold such positions while others might be compelled to take part in military service.
We have to our credit honorable and conscientious service in the Government employ, and reference to the heads of the respective Departments will substantiate our claim that our work and devotion to duty were above question.
– An ex-parte statement.
– I admit it.
We claim that our internment was brought about to appease the conscriptionists and antiGerman bodies, and despite the extenuating circumstances of our case, advantage was taken of our German parentage to have us placed out’ of the way. While other defaulters, who were prosecuted or imprisoned, have been fullypardoned and their liberty in noway restricted,we remain imprisoned in face of appeals to the honorable Minister for Defence, and in contradiction to the general amnesty which was granted by the Governor-General.
Whatever may be the reasons for the internment of other British subjects, we feel that ours is a case to which the fullest consideration is due, as we claim that we are entitled to that liberty which should be the possession of every real Australian. ( Signed )
I admit, as Senator Guthrie says, that it is an ex-parte statement, and for all I know the Government might have some incriminating evidence against these men, to justify them in holding them. I have simply given a prima facie case, which deserves some consideration. Unless Ministers have something incriminating against them, the men certainly ought to be released.
– The case has had a lot of consideration.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLLN Does the honorable senator know anything of it?
– I do. They said they could not conscientiously fight for Australia, and yet you claim them as comrades!
Senator . Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.The honorable senator will have an opportunity of putting the case against them. I think their father was an inspector of police in South Australia for . some years.
Reference has been made to the question of the war and peace proposals. I admit frankly that I am one of those “ idiots,” of whom we have heard from the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), who believe that it would be wise for the belligerent Powers to enter into negotiations with the idea of securing an enduring peace. There are a few more “ idiots “ of that nature about. I think the majority of the people of the belligerent countries are of the same opinion. I am confident that the majority of those in Australia are. Here is another “ idiot,” who makes the following statement: -
I do not believe that an out-and-out victory is possible for any group of nations. I consider that we have fought to a stage when the enemy is now ready to consider and concede terms.
That “idiot” is General Smuts, a member of the War Cabinet in Great Britain, and that statement was made by him to the workers of the Clyde only a week or two ago. Reference has been made to the German colonies and the new Monroe doctrine formulated by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), who has said, “Hands off the Pacific!”
– That doctrine has been approved by this Chamber.
.-I do not think we went so far as that in the resolution we passed. It dealt with the return of the German colonies, but Mr. Hughes refers to the whole of the Southern Pacific. To show that his ideas are opposed to Imperial policy, here is what Mr. Lloyd George said -
German colonies to be held at the disposal of a conference, whose decisions must have regard to the wishes and interests of the inhabitants.
Territorial settlement based on the right of self-determination and consent of the governed.
That is the latest Imperial policy as announced by the Prime Minister of England (Mr. Lloyd George). I do not know whether the policy of the Prime Minister of Australia will override it or not, but if we are to formulate this immense claim for the overlordship of the Pacific, in which the Dutch, Japanese, Yankees, andFrench, as well as the British, have Possessions, we are taking on a very large order. Later the Prime Minister said that he did not intend to state that Australia should have the complete control of the Islands of the Pacific, and that he is perfectly willing that friendly Powers should retain their Possessions in that ocean. That would not remove the menace to Australia’s safety which he foresees from the proximity of possibly hostile nations in the Pacific, because the nations we are fighting to-day may be our Allies in a few years, and our Allies to-day may be our opponents then. If the safety of Australia can be established only by Australian control of the South Pacific, this new Monroe doctrine must include giving notice to quit to all the nations who have Possessions there. We have the Dutch in New Guinea just alongside of us. They are not a very formidable nation, but they may hereafter be in alliance with some other nation. I am not anticipating anything of the sort, but those are possibilities we have to consider when we attempt to formulate such a policy.
Numerous peace proposals have been made, some by the Prime Minister of England (Mr. Lloyd George), some by the President of the United States of America (Mr. Wilson), His Holiness the Pope, Baron Hertling, the German Imperial Chancellor, and Count Czernin, the Chancellor of Austria. A resolution was passed in the German Reichstag favouring a policy of peace without annexations or indemnities. That was passed some twelve months ago, and although the statements of various German publicists and others have been frequently quoted as repudiating it, I believe I am correct in saying that it still stands unrepealed, and that no counter-resolution has since been passed. It is, therefore, the official resolution of the German Parliament.
– What is meant by “ without indemnities “ ?
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.That none of the belligerents should claim monetary reparation for any damage done.
– Then there is to be no reparation for the wrongs of Belgium ?
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.The word “ indemnity “ has a very definite meaning.
– They may mean by that resolution, “ without indemnities to be paid by Germany.”
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.When one compares the various peace proposals, it is found that there is substantial agreement in three-fourths, and, perhaps, in even four-fifths, of the propositions. There is general agreement on some of the most fundamental principles on which a durable peace might be based. I do not think it is “ idiotic “ or unreasonable to suggest that, in view of such a consensus of agreement up to a certain point, negotiations between the parties might result in the adjustment of the remaining conditions in a satisfactory manner, particularly when the alternative is a fight to a finish, which may last for years, and as to which, I say sadly, we have no assurance whether it will end in Paris or in Berlin. The proposals of the Labour party as to peace by negotiation are neither unreasonable nor “ idiotic.” They are on a par with the suggestions of the Labour party in Great Britain, and not far astray from: the proposals of President Wilson and Lloyd George himself. We are told that it means “ hoisting the white flag “ and “ throwing in the towel,” and we are asked to look at the result of negotiations in Russia and Roumania. The cases are not at all analogous. The peace made with Russia, Roumania, and Servia was a peace between conquerors and conquered. Thank God we are not in that position. We would enter into the negotiations on equal terms, not as an exhausted or defeated nation, but as one holding its own, with immense resources still behind it, and entitled to demand fair conditions. It is only from that stand-point that I would suggest or approve of negotiations for peace being entered into.
I am proud of the position which Australia has taken in this war from the start. She still holds the proudest position among the British Dominions whatever way we look at it. If we take the number of men she has sent in proportion to her population, or the amount of money she has put into the war, or the number of Australians who have paid the supreme sacrifice, showing that they have been in the thick of the fight from the beginning, or the number of honours gained, the result is the same. Only the other day I came across in a magazine in the Library some figures showing that our men have not only been in the thick of the fight, but have gloriously distinguished themselves in it. This was a list of the Victoria Crosses awarded to the British Forces during 1917. Out of 145 awarded to British soldiers, including the Dominions, seventeen went to the Australian Imperial Force, eight to Canada, and two to New Zealand. The population of Canada is nearly double ours, and that of New Zealand about one-fourth. Whichever way the comparison is made, good old Australia holds a glorious position in the assistance it has given to the Empire in the supreme crisis of its history.
– There are one or two matters to which I desire to direct attention in the course of this debate and before Parliament goes into the recess which we anticipate, but before doing so, I wish to refer to a subject mentioned by Senator O’Loghlin. The honorable senator, following the course laid down by his leader (Senator Gardiner), ventured some observations upon a proposition for a calling together of the belligerent powers, with a view to establishing peace. The honorable gentleman has given expression to sentiments which, as he assured us and which, as we all know, he sincerely entertains; but, personally, I am of the opinion, and I as sincerely hold it, that, at this juncture, any talk of peace of the character adumbrated by his remarks, is particularly dangerous to our interests. At this particular crisis in the progress of the war, I think it is obvious that we should leave the adjustment of such matters as the foregathering of belligerent powers to those in control of our Empire and the Allied countries. The present is a particularly inopportune time for amateurs to venture into the field of peace-making. If we look at the position of the Allies and our enemies in relation to their respective objectives, it must be admitted, I think, that our enemies are at present in a rauch better situation than we could have wished to find them at any stage of the war, so that the time for peace overtures is more opportune now for our enemies than ourselves. I am not one of those who believe that discussion, either here, or in the Imperial Parliament, or elsewhere, of details appertaining to this war, such as our respective objectives, our respective strengths in man power, materials or resources, or as regards our present or future intentions, is of very great value. On the contrary, I am inclined to think that any such discussion, so far from heartening the nation or helping those who are committed to the war work, is calculated rather to impair our effort. These are matters better left to the inner Councils of the Empire. They should not be too much canvassed or discussed in public, whether it be in the streets, through the columns of the press, or in our Parliaments. If we are to act effectively, our several Governments must be trusted with a large amount of executive power, and we, as members of Parliament, whilst maintaining a certain amount of control over them, must repose in them sufficient confidence to permit of their directing all their energies to the discharge of the important duties in which they are engaged. To ask or expect them to discuss in Parliament, or through the columns of the press, all the details to which I have referred, would often be to help the other side and impair our own efforts.
– Australian opinion is invited by the Imperial authorities.
– Yes, and the Government can, or should be, capable of estimating the flow and current of our public opinion. I think it would be harmful to ourselves and helpful to our enemies if we had too much discussion, open and public,- upon details in connexion with this great struggle.
Having said that I think I am not transgressing beyond the limits I have laid down when I say that if we look at the present position in Europe and elsewhere we must admit it is more favorable to our enemies than we had ever anticipated, and certainly more favorable than we should like to see permanently established. That being so, I think it would be utterly improper, and certainly disadvantageous, at this juncture to call a halt in belligerent activity. This is a path which I think an amateur should fear to tread, for these matters are of the most vital importance and call for a display of the highest skill in diplomacy and sound experience in international relationship. The man in the street, though he may be wise in his generation, with wisdom of a peculiar character, does not usually possess the particular wisdom and the particular quality of skill that would enable him to deal with a delicate situation such as this is, and which the representatives of our Empire and her Allies would have to meet when the Conference is summoned to settle upon a permanent basis of peace.
What is the position? Broadly speaking, we should be at peace to-day if Britain had had her way. Britain never sought this war. And when I say that of Britain I s.ay it too of the British Empire, of which we are a part. So far from Britain having prompted this war, she was the last of all the Great Powers to enter into it in 1914. She hesitated, in fact, so long about it that she subjected herself to the risk of misunderstanding by her Ally, Prance, and for some feverish, days France was in a position of apprehension and trepidation, wondering what Britain would do in this mighty world conflict, which was then unrolling itself before her eyes. What was Britain doing then? Through her” most skilful diplomats she was using every art that she could command of persuasion, argument, and of entreaty to Austria and Germany, begging them to take no step which would deluge Europe for years in human blood ; begging those Great Powers to commit themselves to no course of action which would lead to devastation throughout the countries of the old world. But argument, persuasion, and entreaty fell upon deaf ears, and when Britain realized that argument with the Central Powers was useless she reluctantly but resolutely abandoned the force of argument, and resorted to the argument of force in conjunction with Russia and France. What was her position then? The Kaiser turned to an onlooking and listening world, and spoke of Britain’s “ contemptible little army.” He little realized when he used that phrase that he was for all times branding Britain as a non-military Power - a Power that was going into the war with a military strength which he could speak of, with confidence and disdain, as Britain’s: “contemptible little army.” But that phrase was in itself an absolute proof, if proof were needed, that Britain did not enter voluntarily into this war. If we take Britain’s standing army at the time she entered’ into the war, and add to it the then standing army of the United States of America, the two together were not as great as the standing army of the smallest of the Balkan States. Who can say, therefore, that Britain, any more than America, sought this war? And as Britain was so forced into a German-timed war, let us be careful not to be inveigled into a German-timed peace. And so I say that it is most dangerous at this moment for amateurs, for the inexperienced, to be talking of negotiations to bring about peace. That is a matter which, as I have already said, should be dealt with by men much more skilful than those who so glibly offer this suggestion to our nation.
The experience of those who in the past have entered into negotiations with representatives of the Central Powers shows that, as at present constituted, they cannot be trusted. What else can be inferred from the violation of Belgium, from Germany’s utter disdain of her national obligations with respect to the maintenance of the neutrality of Belgium? Germany, in conjunction with Britain and other European Powers, long ago entered into an obligation for the maintenance of Belgium’s neutrality. The obligation was upon each to each and each to Belgium. It was left to Germany alone to treat that arrangement as a “ scrap of paper.” We all know what took place in the days of July and August, 1914, preceding this war - how the assassination at Sarajevo was used as a pretext for forcing belligerent relations upon Austria and Russia in order that the flames of war might be lighted by Germany in most of the European countries. We should, therefore, leave all details as to peace terms to the diplomatists of Great Britain and her Allies, who have had actual experience with the representatives of the Central Powers in the past. It is they, and they alone, who will be able to deal skilfully with any arrangement that is likely to be entered into. It is more likely that anything that might now be agreed upon would not be carried out, so long as the conditions which existed before the war, and which exist now in the Central Powers, are maintained. And that is what is meant’ when it is said that there must be something in the nature of a revolution in Germany. It need not necessarily mean a bloody revolution, but there must be a revolution constitutionally, and in German public sentiment, before we can be sure we are dealing with a Power that will respect its obligations. It has failed to respect them in the past, and its attitude towards Austria is one of such constraint that the same must be - said of Austria. Why, it must be asked, should Germany, at this moment, get an advantage by our calling for a cessation of the fighting? Why should the belligerents, as they stand to-day, be pressed to enter the council-room to endeavour to formulate terms of peace? Why should such a proceeding be sought just at a time when everything is in Germany’s favour, and when the cessation of fighting would give Germany an opportunity for recuperation? And why should the Allies be asked to formulate peace proposals when anything that might be agreed upon is just as likely to be treated as a scrap of paper, as was the treaty with Germany regarding Belgium ? We know that one of the reasons why Germany treated the obligations to Belgium and other Powers as scraps of paper - the main reason, iu fact; - was that Germany might pass through Belgium and attack France. But there was another purpose. Germany desired to reach the coast so as to be within striking distance of Great Britain. Therefore,, not merely honour and the fulfilment of our covenant with the Powers and Belgium, but also the instinct of self-preservation, dictated that Great Britain should enter into the war. But the last thing of all to be considered is that, because Britain is having perhaps a harder time than was anticipated, a halt should be’ cried, and an opportunity given for the belligerent Powers to meet and formulate a basis for peace. And, too, it should not be forgotten that those terms might finally be rejected by the Central Powers, and that, even if they were accepted, they might not be later on respected by them; while, in any case, their formulation would occupy so much time that the enemy would be given what
Germany most needs at present - an opportunity for recuperation and revivification. At this juncture it is idle and frivolous, and worse, for anybody unversed in international history and diplomacy to take any course of action calculated to create a current of opinion in the direction of opening up immediate negotiations for peace. This is the most critical and most dangerous period of the war, and the worst time of all in which amateurs should seek to interfere. It must not be forgotten that this was a German-timed war. It is a German - made war. The peace that is spoken of now might not be wholly German-made, but it would be certainly German-timed. And it is our obligation to avoid anything of that character.
I wish to deal now with one or two matters concerning local administration. Some time, ago, Senator Guy made reference in the Senate to the case of certain intending wireless operators who had enlisted in Tasmania. The circumstances under which they joined the Forces were such that their subsequent treatment went very far to show that,- inadvertently or otherwise, the Department was not keeping faith with them. Early in April this year Alderman Meagher, of Hobart, who had been mayor of the city, and is chairman of the Public Service Board of Tasmania, and who had been at one time a telegraph operator, called upon me. He had written to me with respect to these operators, and I understand that at about the same time he had communicated also with the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce). In his letter to the Minister, he referred to the case of the operators, and remarked -
A perusal of the correspondence attached herewith will convey to you some of the facts of the case. I may mention that no reply, not even an acknowledgment, has been vouchsafed my communication of 23rd November, 1917, a communication which Lieutenant Medhurst, O.C. 31st Signal Corps, Australian Engineers, duly forwarded through the proper channel.
While Mr. Meagher was in Melbourne, knowing how much the Minister’s time is occupied, I suggested that the visitor should personally interview the Secretary to the Department, and supplement in a direct statement the information he had furnished by medium of his letters. I made an appointment. Mr. Meagher called upon the Secretary, and placed the matter fully before him. As the result of his previous communications, and of his direct representations, the position of those among the men who had enlisted under the original conditions was very favorably considered. I was informed by Mr. Meagher that an order which had gone out with respect to those men had , been subsequently modified or cancelled. I understood that that was where the matter had been left, and that everything was satisfactory, until Senator Guy again raised the matter in this chamber. As far back as 14th August, 1917, Mr. Meagher wrote to the Organizing Secretary of the State Recruiting Committee in Hobart as follows: -
In the window of your recruiting rooms a notice appears to the effect that telegraph operators are urgently needed at the Front.
Under the modern system of signalling in war, entailing as it does the services of trained telegraphists, it was to be expected that, sooner or later, a shortage in the supply of such men would, be experienced at the Front, unless systematic efforts were made in the matter of special training. Telegraphists ara not to be found easily, and, in some instances, their training involves close application and attention on the part of the instructors. . . .
I am a busy man, but my services as a certificated telegraphist are at the disposal of the military authorities, if such services could be utilized for instructional purposes, and without fee or reward. My age is forty-six years. I had a lengthy experience as an active telegraphist- (five years under the Government of Victoria, ten years under the Government of Tasmania, and one year in Western Australia. I was always regarded as a speedy “ sender “ and “ receiver.” … If my proposition be favorably considered, I should be glad to discuss with the authorities details, such as the time I could give to the work, See.
I may, mention that my son is at the Front, and, according to latest advices, was in command of a company at the battle of Messines Ridge.
On the 30th August a reply was sent to Mr. Meagher by the State Organizing Secretary, Captain Ogilvy, as follows: -
Your patriotic offer to assist in the training of operators for service at the Front was forwarded to military head-quarters for their consideration, and the following reply has been received: - “Yours of 15th inst., forwarding letter of Mr. Meagher, has received consideration, and the suggestion is considered a valuable one. The Commandant desires you to convey his thanks to Mr. Meagher for his patriotic offer, and to inform him that the Defence Department will be glad to avail themselves of his services under the following conditions: -
That a signalling class will be formed at Anglesea Barracks* under the supervision of Lieutenant Medhurst, assisted by Mr. Meagher and others.
That the Recruiting Committee will undertake to find not less than six candidates who are passed as medically fit for the Australian Imperial Force, and undertake to enlist when the course of instruction is completed.
The class will probably meet twice a week, and extend over twenty or more lessons.
Candidates must pass a test at conclusion of the course.”
The classes will probably be held in a room at this recruiting office, as being most centrally situated, and we are getting the names of candidates, so it is trusted that we will soon be availing ourselves of your offer of service.
On the 4th September Mr. Meagher communicated with Captain Ogilvy, acknowledging that letter. A class was formed. Lieutenant Medhurst, who has had considerable practical experience in that class of work, and Mr. Meagher also, gave up their time to the teaching of these men. They spent their own money, too, in connexion with the matter. About that time an order was issued as follows : -
No. 75519, Department of Defence, Melbourne, 15th October, 1917.
Commandant Sixth M.D.
The needs of the signal service are becoming increasingly great, and the demands for operators, both wireless and other, correspondingly difficult to meet. The following are chiefly required : -
Railway telegraph operators.
Telegraph line repairers.
No regular quota has been called -for from the Sixth Military District, but no opportunity of obtaining suitable men should be overlooked, however.
It is thought that by using the press periodically to give publicity to the great importance of this branch of the service in modern war, and to the need of keeping signal service units up to strength, a certain response would result. Likely institutions such as the Post Office, railways, technical and training schools should be circularized ….
Recruits offering as operators will be required to pass an operating test of sending and receiving at least twenty words per minute before concentration-
These are the words I particularly desire to emphasize - but men who are evidently suitable, and who can produce satisfactory evidence that they are in the way of becoming proficient operators may be accepted.
– When the sitting was suspended, I was quoting from a communication from the Chief of the Ordnance Department in Melbourne to the Commandant of the 6th Military District. That communication stressed the urgency which existed for procuring wireless operators, office telegraphists, railway telegraph operators, operators and telegraph line repairers, and suggested that the press might be used to make known the need for such members in our Expeditionary Force. It further stated that, whilst the test of their ability should be the capacity to send and receive at least twenty words a minute, men who were suitable, and were “ in the way of becoming proficient operators” would be accepted. That seems very distinct and clear. It was after these facts had become known to Alderman Meagher, and others who. were interested in assisting members of the Wireless Class in Tasmania, that that gentleman wrote to Lieutenant Medhurst a somewhat lengthy letter, of which I shall quote only the portion that is relevant to the grievance which has arisen out of these circumstances. That letter is dated 23rd November, 1917, and is addressed to Lieutenant Medhurst, O.C. Signalling Corps. Referring to the class of . wireless operators in training, Mr. Meagher says -
This class, consisting of about fifteen mem bers, has been in operation about two months, and, as you are aware, excellent progress has been made, the membersevincing great interest and enthusiasm in the work. One member has enlisted in the Flying Corps, and several others are now equal to the test required to enable them to join the signalling unit abroad. The other members are showing evidence of fitness to be allowed to enter camp almost forthwith. My object incommunicating with you now is to urge that every man in the class who is considered by you, in conformity to a circular recently issued by the State Recruiting Committee, to be likely to become efficient in a reasonable period, should be taken into camp. The men are anxious to go into camp, and have already passed medical examination.
It will be seen, therefore, that, according to a communication from Headquarters, it was only necessary that the men should be “in the way of becoming proficient operators “ to insure their acceptance.
– To the class.
– That fact was made public. Alderman Meagher, in communicating with Lieutenant Medhurst, directed attention to it, and urged that the men who had already passed the medical examination, and had exhibited a likelihood of becoming proficient within a reasonable period, should be taken into camp. He further said -
All that the members of the class need now is proper facilities for constant practice for about two months, and they cannot get that under existing conditions. The men are doing all that can be expected of them, and now it is the duty of the military authorities to do the rest. Could not arrangements be made in Claremont for finishing training there? I shall be glad to help.
Later on, I find a communication to the Officer Commanding 31st Signalling Corps, signed C. A. C, Captain, Acting D.A.A. and Quartermaster-General. It is evidently a telegram. It is dated 1st December, 1917, and reads -
If you will certify that these men arc able to send and receive twenty words per minute, or that they may become proficient operators [vide attached circular), they may enlist and go out to Claremont Camp at once.
Subsequently the’ certificate was forthcoming, and these men went into the Claremont Camp. Whilst there, in addition to giving their time, some little expense was incurred by Alderman Meagher and others in providing them with equipment and other facilities to enable them to pursue their training. The men were subjected to an examination, and a number of them failed to pass the test of twenty words a minute for sending and receiving, but succeeded in doing from ten to fourteen words per minute. Later on it was intimated to the men that, though they had enlisted for the Signalling Corps, they had not passed the prescribed test, and consequently they would have to go into the general ranks. It was at this stage - just prior to the reassembling of the Parliament after Easter - that the matter was brought under my notice. Happening to be in Melbourne at the time, I told Alderman Meagher that the Minister was very busy, and that, as he. had a number of details to attend to, especially in connexion with the opening of Parliament, he was more than ordinarily busy. However, I succeeded in making an appointment for Alderman Meagher with the Secretary of the Defence Department, and, as a result of that interview, I understand that the Department took up the attitude that faith would be kept with those who had enlisted as signallers, and had gone into the class under the conditions originally laid down. They would, therefore, go for ward as signallers, but if they went forward as ordinary members of the Australian Imperial Force it would be incumbent upon them to re-enlist.
Until the matter was raised by Senator Guy a couple of weeks ago, during my temporary absence in Tasmania, I understood that that was the position. I think I am right in believing that so far as the original members were concerned, faith . was to be kept with them. But last week a number of these youths - eleven in all - were suddenly notified in the Claremont Camp that they were to go into the Wireless Corps, in Moore Park, Sydney. The notice given to them must have been exceedingly short, because I was speaking to one of them in Launceston last Monday week, and he, with ten others, wa3 in Melbourne on the following Thursday. These men arrived by the Rotomahana, went on to Sydney by the afternoon train, reaching that city on Friday, and within two hours of their arrival were subjected to a further test. The majority of them were then told that they had failed to reach the standard of twenty words per minute. . Two of their number evidently satisfied the examiners. These were youths who had previously had experience as telegraph operators in the Department of the Postmaster-General. But amongst the remainder are some who had enlisted under the conditions originally laid down. When they represented that they had enlisted as wireless men only, and had been given to understand that though they might not reach the standard of twenty words per minute in sending and receiving, yet if they showed a likelihood of becoming efficient they would be given an opportunity to continue their training-
– The very document which the honorable senator has read shows that if they did that, they would be allowed to enter the class.
– But what I am referring to took place within the past week. Eleven of these men were taken to Moore Park, Sydney, and within an hour or two of their arrival were subjected to a test. As a result of that test they were told - with the exception of two of them - that they could not be accepted and passed into the Signalling Corps. Some of them were informed that they would have to go abroad as privates in the ordinary rants. I am bringing this matter under the notice of the Minister in the hope that he will give it his personal consideration. I quite understand the difficulties of his position. I quite appreciate the volume of detail with which he is confronted at every hour of the day. But if he can find time to give this matter his personal consideration I believe that he will recognise the justice of affording to these eleven men, who were suddenly called from Tasmania to Moore Park, Sydney, an opportunity for some little training to enable them to demonstrate either their proficiency or the likelihood of their becoming proficient, before final action is taken. I assure the Minister that there is a feeling growing up between the States in connexion with the position that each occupies under Federal Administration. There is a disposition - especially on the part of the people in the smaller States - to believe that they do not get the same opportunities as are afforded to those who are closer to the centres of administration. I am not referring to the Defence Department in particular, but to all Federal Departments. Something like that feeling exists in the minds of some of these young men and in the minds of their friends. I. earnestly ask the Minister to remember this fact, and to see that the men are given a fair opportunity in their new environment of demonstrating within a reasonable time either that they are proficient or that they are likely to become proficient.
There is one other matter connected with the Defence Department to which I have to direct attention. There is a number of men occupying here the position of sergeant-major. They are members of the Permanent Military Forces, who have been abroad and have seen active service in this war. They have been engaged in the heat of the conflict, and some for gallantry have been decorated. Because of the efficient performance of their duty, and their increased experience, many of these men obtained promotion abroad and returned to Australia with a higher rank than that with which they left. Sergeantsmajor have become captains and majors while on active service fighting in the war. I am speaking particularly of men who, before the war, devoted themselves to the military service as a means of livelihood. When they return and are sent into a camp or given other duties in connexion with the Defence Department, they revert to the rank with which they left for the Front.
– They understood that when they went away.
– That was clearly understood.
– I do not know, but I am stating the facts, and the practice followed has led to a consequence which I think very few persons contemplated. Some of these men, though promoted abroad, on returning to Australia and reverting to their original rank, have found themselves subordinated to men who occupied the same rank or one not much higher when they left, and in some instances to men who were eligible with themselves to go to the Front and did not hear the call.
– No, none of those staff sergeants-major were allowed to go.
– I am not speaking of staff sergeants-major, but of civilian officers who were here in the Militia when the men to whom I refer went away. Before those permanent soldiers went away, or during their absence, these Militia officers have been called into camp and given certain duties to perform with substantial remuneration.
– That is with the Citizen Forces, and not with the Australian Imperial Force.
– Some of these men, outside their military duties altogether, are members or partners in highlypaying businesses. What is the position ? The sergeant-major who on active service became a captain or a major, and was decorated, reverts to the rank of a sergeantmajor on his return, with a salary of that rank, upon which he depends for a livelihood. He finds, when he gets back, that men who are, perhaps, partners in good paying concerns have been given good snug military appointments in Citizen Force camps.
– Yes, for about eight days.
– I know of cases where they have held these positions for much longer than that, though I am not in a position to say whether the men whom I have in mind were in Citizen Force camps or in camps of the Australian
Infantry Force. I believe that some of these men were in the Claremont Camp.
– I do not think there is a Citizen Force officer left in an Australian Imperial Force camp. Practically all officers now in Australian Imperial Force camps are returned men.
– I hope, from one point of view, that I am wrong. But the people are asking, “Why does not So-and-so, who has seen active service, and has shown his merit, get such a position as is given to some one else who has not been to the Front, and who is also in receipt of a good income from a business?” There is justification for such remarks unless I have been misinformed, or have not been accurately observant.
– The grievance of these mcn as submitted to me is not as the honorable senator has stated it. They complain that sergeants-major who were not allowed to go to the Front have been given honorary commissions, whilst those allowed to go have been away, and that when they come back they revert to their old rank, whilst the others retain their honorary rank.
– I have heard that complaint, but I have had it brought under my notice that ordinary civilians are now holding military commissions, not for eight days, but for a considerable time, and that they are men who, though qualified and eligible for active service, did not go to the Front. These men are now senior in rank to men who have been away and obtained promotion abroad to a higher rank. That is where the shoe pinches. The Minister will remember that two or three months ago I wrote to him personally upon one aspect of the question. I believe that he is out to do justice wherever there is a call for it. Prompted by that belief, I drew his attention to a matter to which he gave most prompt and full consideration. This other matter has been brought under my notice only recently, and I feel that if the facts are such as have been stated to me, and the Minister is satisfied upon that point, he will see that a system more consonant with justice will be adopted.
I asked a few questions to-day in connexion with the Department of the PostmasterGeneral. I shall not anticipate the replies to them, but it seems to me that there is a disposition in that Depart ment at the present time to overcentralize. We are .constantly confronted with instances of the evils of centralization. The postal, telegraphic and telephonic services are year in and year out, in peace and in war, perhaps the most important of all the public services of the Commonwealth, because they link together all the peoples and industries of this widely-scattered community. If there is one Department more than another coming within the Commonwealth domain which could help in the decentralization of population so necessary in Australia, it is the Post and Telegraph Department. I think that more might be done than has been done in the past to give facilities to country districts in the matter of mail services and telegraphic and telephonic communication.
If newspaper reports are to be relied upon, the Postmaster-General has recently stated his intention to establish an institute in Melbourne. I believe that corresponding institutes are contemplated for all the State capitals. They are to have for their object the training of men of the Department in the performance of their duties, so as to enable them to discharge those duties with the greatest measure of success, in the interests of the Department and of the public. What I should like to know is, If such institutes are to be established in the State capitals, what is to be the position of post-office officials in country districts, and in places like Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Toowoomba, Launceston, or Burnie? Are the proposed advantages and facilities to attain efficiency to be confined only to those who have the good fortune to be employed in the metropolitan centres? I believe that not only should the operation of the Post and Telegraph Department have a decentralizing tendency, but so far as it is itself concerned, officers employed in other than metropolitan areas should be given the same advantages as those who are comfortably billeted in Melbourne, Sydney, and the other State capitals.
It is stated that apart altogether from the work of training, those attending the proposed institute will have opportunities of recreation, gymnastic exercises, billiards, chess, and other games. I do not suppose that it will be practicable to provide that country post-office officials should be given an opportunity to play a game of billiards free or at a nominal fee. If these institutes are to be established, the claims of officials employed outside the metropolitan area should be considered.
Relating to this matter is another which the Postmaster-General has foreshadowed. It is suggested that instead of the entrance examinations now provided for in the case of persons desiring to enter the Post and Telegraph Department, there shall be substituted a system of nomination by school-masters and others outside the service. Whilst I do not for a moment suggest that examinations such as are resorted to in connexion with the Public Service here, with the Indian Public Service and other similar organizations, provide an infallible and final test of capacity or ability, I do believe that they represent the test which is attended by the fewest disadvantages, and are preferable to any other method yet devised. They were deliberately adopted as part of our Public Service Act in 1902, and it seems to me that if the Post and Telegraph Department is to adopt another system, it will necessitate an alteration of the Public Service Act in that regard.
This leads me to say that I believe that the Government must shortly take into consideration the complete re-casting of the Public Service Act. When the Act was passed in 1902 the conditions were totally different from what they are to-day. New and unexpected conditions have developed with remarkable rapidity. Some few years back the administrative rule of preference to unionists was introduced. That has its bearing on the Public Service Act in so far as it touches the provisions relating to temporary employment. Later in connexion with the Repatriation movement came the adoption of the principle of preference to returned soldiers. When that scheme for the appointment of returned soldiers to the Public Service is sought to be given effect to, difficulties arise about the age limit for entry into the Service, so that there has to be<a modification in that regard. Difficulties arise, also, as to the necessity for examination for entry into the Service, because a man of mature years, who has served with the Australian Forces at the Front, and returned, can hardly be asked to “ devil “ up again, if, indeed, he ever did it before, some of the subjects in which it would be necessary for him to qualify in order to pass an examination for entry into the Public Service. If he were asked to do that it would be quite possible, in many cases, to nullify, to all intents and purposes, the opportunity offered for entry into the Service under the system of preference to returned soldiers. That is another condition of affairs which may necessitate a review of the fundamental principles of the Public Service Act. More recently a Bill was introduced to take out of the Public Service a large number of the civil clerks in the Defence Department, and the latest move is the intention foreshadowed by the Postmaster-General, to have a special method of entry into the Postal service, and a special method of treating postal employees. Taking all these elements into consideration, the time has arrived when the Government will have to consider a future Public Service policy for the Commonwealth, and instead of nibbling at the Act here, or taking a piece off it there, or hacking right through it somewhere else, we should have it brought right up to date, so that it may express in all its details the considered opinion of the time in which we are upon all matters contained within the four corners of such enactments. During the recess Ministers may possibly have time to give some consideration to the necessity for such a measure, and the lines upon which it should be drawn for submission to Parliament.
You referred, Mr. Deputy President, in your speech, to the Northern Territory, a subject which, although inspiring, is not under present conditions very cheering. That subject demands the most earnest and the earliest consideration by the Federal Government and Parliament. I am afraid that since we took the Territory over, and now, we have been and are making a mess of it, and I believe there will be no satisfactory policy for it until its administration, so far under Commonwealth conditions, has been thoroughly investigated - until we see what have been our shortcomings in administration, what have been their causes, what should be the line of policy for the future, and the best and readiest means of getting on to such a line of policy as will make for progress. There must be a most exhaustive inquiry, and if any one better versed in the affairs of the Territory and its administration feels disposed to test the feeling of the Senate as to the appointment of a competent tribunal, Commission, or other body, to investigate that administration, I promise him my support.
Senator Bakhap referred this morning to a matter in which he and I were personally interested, but which he said, to some extent, concerned all public men, and, perhaps, a little more directly, all the members of the Senate. So far as I heard him, he gave a reasonable and fair statement of the position. I shall not recapitulate what he said, and it is far from my intention to say anything to anticipate further developments, which may involve, not only the people he has named, but several .others. I have only to add to what he said these facts : Prom the moment the publication of which he and £ complained appeared, there was only one obligation upon us. It was our duty to ourselves, to the Senate, to our constituents, to the State we represent, and to the Commonwealth, to have the matter cleared up. If the other side could prove their infamous charges against us, they should be given the opportunity of doing so. We gave them the opportunity. We instituted proceedings within a week, I think, after the publication appeared and had been seen by us. We instituted them just before the election came on ; that was at the end of April or the beginning of May. The case did not come on for hearing until the following. 6th November. In the interim, proceedings in connexion with pleadings were going on. It was open to the defendants at any time during that long period to apologize, to express regret, or to withdraw the accusation, but they did nothing of the kind. There was no peace by negotiation so far as they were concerned. They made no offer and no attempt at an offer. Instead, they asked, through their representatives, for further time to plead. I said “Give them all the time they want,” and when their extended period of pleading was about to elapse they asked for leave to plead more than one matter. My instructions on behalf of Senator -Bakhap and myself were, “Let them plead anything they like,” and. in conformity with that, they pleaded, I think, every plea which it was open to a defendant to plead, in the desperate hope of getting us on one string or other. In addition, they wanted adjournments, and, with the exception of the last application they made for an adjournment, I think everything they asked for they got. Their last application for an adjournment was out of the question. The Senate were up for a few weeks, we were to meet again late in November, and we could not have returned to Tasmania again to go on with the case on the 26th of that month. Apart from that, I had just got word that they were conducting their liquidation proceedings, and probably they wanted the extra adjournment to enable them to complete them. I mention all these circumstances to show that Senator Bakhap was right in saying that we felt it our duty to ourselves, to the Senate, to the State of Tasmania, and to the Commonwealth, to have the matter cleared up. We gave them every opportunity, conceded everything they asked in the progress of the case, and honorable senators have heard how they met us. We went to the Court at Hobart,’ and, legally speaking, so far as the case was concerned, there was no obligation on either of us to go into the witness-box. All we had to do for our case was to put in the article and prove it as being published by the defendant company, and the onus of proof then rested upon them. We did not take that course. We went into the box, and gave formal evidence, identifying ourselves with the plaintiffs, and denying the truth of the allegations, and then presented ourselves for crossexamination. Had we not done that, their eloquent counsel from Melbourne would have had nothing on which to talk in their behalf. The only case he sought to establish was based on our crossexamination. We decided, as it were, to go up to the cannon’s mouth, and let them use what powder they had behind it. We subjected ourselves to crossexamination voluntarily and willingly, because we did not want- anybody to say that we shirked it. We were subjected to a lengthy and exhaustive examination, and all the counsel for the defendants had to base an appeal to the jury upon was the series of baseless suppositions involved in the questions that he asked us. With-, out those questions he would have been thrown back, for his address to the jury, solely and wholly upon the article itself. Senator Bakhap has told the Senate the treatment that has since been meted out to us. If that is British fighting, there would not he much to choose between it and the German method. If it is not repudiation, I do not know what it is, yet this censor of public morality, of Parliaments, and of public bodies generally, deals with a resolution arrived at within the last few months by the Victorian Railways Union in Melbourne, and from that draws a moral and points the path of duty to the Government. He tells the Government that, if they take certain action, there will be no longer be heard in the land any suggestion of repudiation of public or private debt - this from the man who has flagrantly and openly repudiated a debt which a jury of the Commonwealth decided that he owed.
Senator Needham this evening, in criticising the Government and their policy, made detailed reference to the number of days on which Parliament has sat. I do not know whether he was really serious, or echoing an utterance that he had heard or read elsewhere, or indulging in the gentle art of “ legpulling,” but I am one, at any rate, who thinks that it is most fallacious and absurd to measure the achievement of a Government by the number of days that Parliament is actually sitting. If this Parliament were to sit all the year round, and the Minister had to come in and give his attention all the time to the consideration of utterances by honorable senators, I venture to say that he would lose practically the whole of that time from necessary administrative work in his Department. I have had some experience as a Minister, ‘close upon four years of it at the table, and I know that the measure of a Minister’s work is not in the least degree to be judged by his presence or absence from this chamber. At times when a Minister is out of this chamber he is far busier than when he is here; and often when he is at the Ministerial table he is aching for an opportunity to get away to meet the officers of his Department, who are loaded with papers bearing upon all kinds of matters, and to which he must give his attention. It is easy enough for honorable senators to rise, and any day and every day to talk on matters that come before the Senate, and to get reported in Hansard, with, perhaps, an- other line in the index, of that volume. I have even known of electors who set out to measure the amount of work done by their representative in Parliament by putting an inch rule over the index in Hansard; but I am rather surprised that any newspaper, especially any journal with a staff well versed in parliamentary practice, and thoroughly conversant with the functions of Ministers, should ever attempt to inculcate the idea that the measure of work done by a Minister is to be determined by -his presence at the Ministerial table when Parliament is assembled-
.- This is the only place where free speech is permitted in the whole of the Commonwealth on certain subjects.
– I do not go with the honorable senator to that extent.
– Colonel O’loghlin. - It is a fact.
– I think not.
So far as the Supply Bill is concerned. I shall support the Government’s request with every assurance, for I believe it is essential they should have, from time to time, a fair measure of Supply to enable them to get to work on those matters of administration which daily, and especially in this time of war, are growing more and more in volume and importance, involving recently an increase in the number of Cabinet Ministers. I shall support the proposal for the granting of Supply, and I trust that during recess Ministers will be afforded an opportunity to take into consideration the serious matters that have been referred to them in both Houses during the past few days, and that when we meet again the Government will be in a position to outline for us a plan of work for the time that we shall be assembled. I sincerely trust, also, that when we meet again the Government will be able to join with honorable members on both sides and with members in both Houses in an expression of satisfaction at the fortunate turn which events will have taken for Great Britain and her Allies in this war.
– I appreciate very much the manner in which Senator ‘Keating has referred to the difficulties of Ministers in framing policy on most important matters; matters arising from day to day out of the war, and for which, for the greater part, Ministers have no precedent to guide them. Usually, and in normal times, when dealing the questions of policy, Ministers have been able to refer to former legislation, and to take that as a guide; but most of the problems demanding Ministerial attention since the war began have been those problems of which we have had no experience. I agree with Senator Keating that there is a lot of nonsense and humbug in .the suggestion that the closing of Parliament means a closing down in activities connected with the war. I venture to say that the only way in which this work can be put in hand is by periodically closing Parliament to enable Ministers to get together to frame a constructive policy; and, so far as parliamentary approval is necessary, to call Parliament together to get that indorsement.
– To register the decisions of Ministers?
– Not necessarily; but to express in Parliament the views of members on what has been done, and what is proposed to be done by Ministers. I also express my appreciation of Senator Keating’s criticism on certain administrative acts in the Department over which I preside; because his criticism has been given in a spirit that recognises that it is impossible for a Minister, especially a Minister controlling a Department such as that with which I am connected, to give attention to all the most infinite details. Senator Keating has told us that he was good enough, when the matters to which he refers were brought under his notice, not to press them upon me, but that he went to the Secretary to the Department. I say, frankly, that since the war began the pressure of administrative work has grown so much that it is impossible for me, or any other Minister administering a Department affected by the war, to give that attention to detail which was possible in “ the. piping times of peace.”
May I be permitted to refer to some remarks that were made in another place, and upon which there was some comment in the press, namely, that in the Commonwealth and State Parliaments Ministers were submerged in details to an extent not known in the Mother Country. I often used to wonder, before I went to the Old Country, how Ministers in the United Kingdom, dealing with big ques tions of policy and questions of Imperial and local concern, managed to find time to attend to them. But when I was in England, and saw the practice adopted there as compared with the practice in Australia, I no longer wondered. I found that they worked on an entirely different principle. Ministers in the Imperial Parliament are not held responsible personally for details in the same manner as is a Minister in Australia. They deal with policy, and with principles, but not with details. If I may be permitted to use the Minister for War as an illustration, I may say that he would not be held personally responsible if any member of the regular Army were short in his payments, as the Minister for Defence in the Australian Government is held responsible if some member of the Australian Imperial Force does not receive his deferred pay. In England it is not expected that a Minister controlling a huge Department should attempt to make himself personally acquainted with these matters of detail. They have under-secretaries, called Parliamentary Secretaries, who deal with the smaller questions ; and even they have no knowledge of all the details which Ministers in Australia are expected to be conversant with and responsible for.
I do not blame members of Parliament or Ministers for this state of affairs in Australia, because we have inherited our system from the State Parliaments. Let me take, as an illustration, the Defence Department. Before Federation there were six Departments of Defence, one in each of the States; and the Minister, with the permanent head, staff officers and officials of the Public Service, would, in a State like Tasmania or South Australia, have sufficient time at his disposal to become acquainted with the smallest detail of administration. He would know, for instance, the rates of pay, allowances and principles of promotion; and would be able to say why certain officials were promoted while others were not. He would be able to do all this, and even then not spend an hour a day at his office. Under this system, it was the practice for members of Parliament to refer to the Minister, whom they were accustomed to hold responsible for details of administration. Then, when Federation was consummated, and the Departments became amalgamated, a number of Treasury rules which the State Ministers had to observe were engrafted on to the Federal Administration. We adopted a Treasury regulation, for instance, which required the signature of the Minister for all administrative acts. If some damaged cloth in Queensland is reported to be valueless, under this Treasury regulation the Minister for Defence has to be satisfied that it is not of any further use for military purposes, and he must sign an order before it can be sold. That was the position under the State Administration, and that is the system which we inherited. I could give scores of similar instances.
– lt is about time you cut out that regulation, then.
– We have been endeavouring to do it. To show how the Department has grown, I might mention that in the early stages, the total expenditure in any one year was only £1,000,000 for the whole of the Commonwealth. Many members of Parliament who had been in the State Parliaments came into the Federal sphere, and carried into this Parliament the practices to which they had been accustomed. That was, of raising, on the floor of the House, matters of infinite detail, and not following the practice, as in England, or allowing such questions to be dealt with through the Departments. In Federal circles that system rapidly expanded. As the Australian Fleet came into being, and when the defence system was inaugurated, the Ministers concerned endeavoured to stagger along under a system such as that, and at the same time they sought to do constructive work. In times of peace the position was intolerable A Minister had to work from the beginning to the end of the week like a galley slave, and when Parliament assembled he was simply submerged by the mass of detail. He could never get his head above piles of papers in order to look around with a constructive eye. I have pored and worried over documents night after night, month after month, until 2 and 3 o’clock in ‘the morning, as the result of which I have lost all sleep for the remainder of the night. Then I have had to rush back to my office in the morning, speed away to a Cabinet meeting, and from Cabinet to a party meeting, and from party meeting to Parliament. At night again the same old round would begin once more. It is impossible for any one man to do that continuously and at the same time secure freedom to look about him with a view of inaugurating changes, and bringing into being a better system of affairs. We have been working in a vicious circle. Parliament, press, and public have been emphasizing more and more the personal responsibilities of Ministers for minute detail, at the same time, however, calling upon them to do constructive work. The two things are impossible. The one defeats the other. The more a Minister is held responsible for minute considerations the .more impossible it becomes for him to do any constructive work whatever. I know that some members of this Parliament, since the war began, have deliberately abstained from approaching Ministers on matters of detail, and have endeavoured to deal always through the Departments.
Adverting now to matters raised by Senator Keating, I have not had time to look into the file dealing with the particular point in which he and Senator Guy are interested, and, although Senator Guy asked a question in this Chamber, the reply which I gave him was, as I informed him, that which the departmental officer* prepared as setting out the case. I told him that I knew nothing of the circumstances, and was speaking only in general terms. Senator .Keating was good enough to tell the Secretary of the Defence Department that he proposed to mention the same case in Parliament, whereupon Mr. Trumble looked the matter up, and gave me the position as it stands to-day. It is this:
These men were allowed to proceed to the school upon their representation, locally supported, that they had been enlisted with a definite assurance that they were accepted for signal service. They were sent from No. 6 Military District to the Wireless Training School in Sydney. They were, after their arrival, questioned and tested as to their suitability for and proficiency in signal service requirements. The result was most unsatisfactory, and did not at all bear out the local representations which had been made on their behalf. The question of their disposal will, however, not be decided until they have had further opportunity of making good their suitability for admission to the school.
That last paragraph, I take it, meets with the request of Senators Keating and Guy, since the contention is that the men believe they had a promise, and, as they thought they had not been given a fair test immediately upon their arrival in Sydney, they will have a further opportunity of qualifying and a further test.
Senator Keating referred to another question, which is a most difficult one. There were some 400 staff sergeantsmajor - members of the Administrative Instructional Staff - before the war broke out. Practically to a man, upon the advent of war, they asked to be sent overseas with the Australian Imperial Force. They could not be despatched, however, for they were trained instructors, and the Department were bound to retain practically the whole of them. When we were in a position to secure competent temporary instructors at a later stage, we allowed some of those staff sergeantsmajor to depart and serve in the Australian Imperial Force. But, recognising that if the war continued long, practically the whole of them would be given an opportunity to see active service, we realized also that possibly all of those men would return with commissions. They were our permanent instructors, and there was no establishment under which they could be granted commissions when they returned. We had to recollect, also, that we were sending to the war graduates from the Military College, and that there was a definite contract which had to be honoured with those young men who had made the military profession their career, that they would be given commissions. The staff sergeants-major, therefore, were given distinctly to understand that if they went to the Front, and gained commissions in the Australian Imperial Force, upon their return they must revert to their former status. That was only fair, too, because we were forced to prevent, portion of them from going away. They were all just as keen, but we had to say to Jones, “ You may go,” and to Smith, “ You cannot go.” Well, a large number of them went off to the war, and, to their honour and credit be it said, many gained commissions on the field. They not only secured their first commissions, but won further promotions, and one has become a lieutenantcolonel. Now they are coming back. Here occurs a further complication. Not only did we allow our staff sergeantsmajor to go, but, as we could release the permanent commissioned officers on the Administrative Staff in order to get actual war experience, we allowed numbers of them to go also. And those who went as captains are to-day, in numbers of cases, lieutenant-colonels, and even brigadier-generals. We had to fill their places, and did so temporarily by giving honorary commissions to some of those staff sergeants-major who had been retained in Australia against their wishes. We gave to them the same distinct understanding that when the holders of the positions which they were temporarily filling returned home, the honorary commissioned men must revert to their places as staff sergeants-major. They accepted their temporary promotions upon that understanding. We have been releasing batch after batch of our commissioned officers, and now they, too, are coming back with their increased rank. And, altogether, it opens up a most difficult and intricate problem. Parliament votes each year the money to pay the Administrative Instructional Staff, and it is voted upon a distinct establishment - so many colonels, so many lieutenantcolonels, majors, and captains. But, if we are to allow promotions gained in the field to determine the future Tank of our officers, we may finish the war with a whole staff of lieutenant-colonels, and then we shall have to make delicate and invidious distinctions. Moreover, we have not the positions available on our staffs for those ranks. The situation might well develop, so that they would all be officers, and there would be no staff sergeantsmajor.
Senator Keating referred to a case which may be extreme, but which emphasizes the difficulty. A man went away as a staff sergeant-major. He won the V.C., and came back with the rank of captain. The understanding was that he was to revert to the rank of staff sergeantmajor; but there was another obligation also. Not only was he to revert to his old title, but he would be required to go back into one of the Australian Imperial Force Camps here. And there he would find that he would be under another staff sergeant-major who had been made an honorary captain, and who had not been to the Front. for the reason that he had not been permitted to depart. Thus the Victoria Cross winner, with his field rank of captain, would have to serve in camp under an honorary captain who had not seen active service, and who, prior to the war, had been upon the same rank with the other as a staff sergeant-major.
We are wrestling with the problem now, and honorable senators will see how difficult it is. I have given the Military Board a communication of my own feelings,* and it is this: That as the staff sergeants-major who have won commissions in the field return home, the others who have been granted honorary commissions here should depart for the Front and be given opportunities to win commissioned rank under active service conditions. Then, I held, those who have returned should fill the positions that have been vacated. That is about all we can do until the war has come to an end.
– There are cases where men who are neither staff’ sergeants-major nor have been to the Front have received rank in the Commonwealth Military Forces at home.
– Yes, honorary rank; and, so far as we can, we are giving preference to those who have served and won their commissions on active service.
Senator Keating says that in Tasmania there are some Citizen Force officers in the Australian Imperial Force camps who have not been to the war and are still retained as members of the staff; and, further, that there are returned staff sergeantsmajor who have received commissions at the Front and have had to revert to their former rank, doing duty in the camp under Citizen Force officers who have not been on active service.
– I have been given to understand, at any rate, that those returned staff men will very likely find themselves in that position. <
– If the honorable senator can give me particulars of such a case, I can promise him that it will not last long. I am given to understand that in our camps here to-day we are practically completely staffed with returned officers; and that is the right thing to do, namely, -that until the war ends the returned officers should be given preference in our training camps over Citizen Force officers who have not been away. What has been put before Senator Keating, I think, is with respect to Citizen Force camps. In those camps we have units coming in, under the compulsory training system, with their own officers; and there may be an individual who is an officer in a battalion or brigade of the
Citizen Force who goes into camp, and who have never been to the war. He may have offered his name for selection, and have been passed over, but he has not seen his way to enlist as a private. When his unit goes into camp he goes with it, in which case this staffsergeantmajor will come under him. But Senator Keating will see that we cannot very well overcome that difficulty unless we are going to wipe out all Citizen Force officers and put in only Citizen Force officers who have seen service during the war.
– The Government do not intend to deprive a man of the rank which he has won on the field.
– We must, so far as the administrative and instructional branches are concerned, unless we are going to allow the rank won on the field to determine the number of captains, majors, and colonels that we are to have on our staffs here. But if a man comes back with a higher rank than he had previously, he is allowed to retain it as an honorary rank, having won it in the field. That is the difficulty with which we are confronted, and I am not going to be dogmatic as to the way in which we shall settle it. I have given the Military Board certain lines for their guidance, and I have asked them to put before me a scheme which will enable us to do justice all round, and at the same time to keep our contract with the graduates from the Military College who are serving us to-day.
– For some considerable time I have endeavoured to steer clear of controversial politics as far as possible, and it is not my intention to enter upon that field to-night. This is not the place in which members are accustomed to throw bouquets at each other, but I cannot refrain from complimenting Senator Keating upon the splendid advice which he tendered this afternoon, not only to members of the Senate, but also to persons outs de, who are anxious to plunge the Allies into a premature discussion of peace. No better advice has been given in this Chamber.
I was also glad to hear the few remarks which he made concerning the Northern Territory. To my mind the development of our Federal Territories is one of the most pressing problems with which we are confronted.
I am pleased, too, to be in accord with my colleague, Senator Lt.:Col. O’Loghlin, in his claim that Australia has done magnificently during this war. Nobody will attempt to deny that the Australian soldier is second to none on the face of God’s earth, and that Australia’s contribution to the war nas been a magnificent one. But that is no reason why we should relax our efforts. No man can look at the map of Europe to-day and claim that the Englishspeaking race and civilization generally is not in dire peril. Consequently, it is the duty of every man and woman to urge the people of Australia to still further effort until the war has been brought to a successful conclusion.
This afternoon Senator Grant claimed that the increase which had taken place in enlistments during the past few months was due to the Recruiting Conference that was recently held at Federal Government House. No man desires more sincerely than I do that good shall result from that gathering, and that the differences which have existed between certain sections of the community, shall disappear. I deeply deplore that there are still amongst us men’, who, to my mind, are not doing their best to bring about that desirable consummation. Unfortunately, I can advance another reason for the increase that has taken place in enlistments during the past two months. While Senator Grant was speaking I interjected that that increase was largely due to the abolition of the embargo under which youths desirous of enlisting had first to obtain their parents’ consent. As a matter of fact, hundreds of lads have enlisted in Australia - lads under nineteen years of age. But under the new order of things a youth who is not eighteen and a half years of age is not permitted to remain in camp, whilst, if he is between that age and twenty-one years, he must obtain his parents’ consent to enlist, otherwise his parents may protest against his remaining in camp, and, under certain regulations, which have been framed, may compel his withdrawal. If the number of youths who “have been withdrawn from the camps is deducted from the number of enlistments during the past two months, it will be found that there has not been a very great increase in the monthly recruiting figures.
– - But there has been some increase, has there nott
– Oh, yes ! Although the numbers are declining somewhat, the number of enlistments is very substantial, and if the figures keep up to the present standard, I shall be exceedingly glad. I am anxious that everything possible shall be done to increase enlistments, and for this reason I ask the Minister (Senator Pearce) to take into consideration the advisableness of treating the soldier’s wife who is in England in the same way as the soldier’s wife here is treated. Many of our young men who have gone overseas have married in the Old Country. Instead of discouraging them to do so, they ought rather to be encouraged. Otherwise they will be liable to succumb to temptation. There’ are many traps set for them over there, and if the marrying of English, Scotch, or French girls will have a tendency to make better men of them, we have no right to discourage their marriage. I hope that the Minister will consider whether he cannot make use of the military authorities in England, or of the High Commissioner’s Department, or in some other way endeavour, to insure that the wives of men who marry over there shall receive separation allowances.
– Are they not treated in the same way as are the wives of our soldiers here?
– No; they get no separation allowance.
– I have been assured that they do.
– I may tell the honorable senator that they do not. The Canadian and New Zealand Governments pay separation allowance to the wives of men from the Dominion who marry overseas, and there is no reason why we should not do the same thing. It would only be an act of justice to the men and their wives, and it would have a good effect upon recruiting.
Reference has been made by Senator Shannon to the questions of Commonwealth railways and Commonwealth Territory. It is true that we in Australia are being loaded with a tremendous taxation bill. But I am not at all alarmed about that. Let us win the war first, and we can face our taxation difficulties afterwards. But we are neglecting a very great opportunity. We are neglecting the Northern Territory, which ought to be developed, and which ought to be paying its way. I am satisfied that it can be made to contribute very handsomely to the Commonwealth revenue. As a South Australian, honorable senators may think that I have a bias in favour of that Territory. That may be so. But I would point out that, though we have connected Kalgoorlie with Port Augusta and Adelaide, we have only partially completed our work. We are accustomed to preach here and elsewhere of the evils attendant upon a break of gauge. Yet the fact remains that we have one gauge between Perth and Kalgoorlie, another between Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta, a third between Port Augusta and Terowie, and still another between Terowie and Adelaide. Instead of minimizing these difficulties we are increasing them, and building up a. load of further expense which will have to be met by-and-by. It is, in my opinion, the bounden duty of the Commonwealth Government to step in now and build a line on the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge from Port Augusta to Adelaide. The South Australian Government are proposing to build such a line on the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, but the Commonwealth Government should undertake the construction of the line on their own standard gauge. Its construction would lead to the rapid opening up of the country between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie, much of which is valuable pastoral country, whatever any one may say to the contrary. The owner of a sheep station does not want a railway station at his back door. He does not mind driving stock, it may be, for 100 or 200 miles, but when it comes to driving them from 800 to 1,000 miles he finds’ he cannot do it. If what I suggest be done, stock from this country could be brought speedily to the markets and freezing works in South Australia, and I am confident it would lead to a great increase of settlement along the line between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie. The Commonwealth could build this line from Port Augusta to Adelaide just as readily as the South Australian Government, and they would then have control of the railway throughout. It is only a matter of a few years when the Western Australian Government will widen the gauge between Kalgoorlie and Fremantle.
This brings me to the consideration of the North and South railway. We have from Port Augusta a Commonwealthowned line to Oodnadatta, for a distance of 500 miles. It is a narrow gauge railway, it is true, but it is Commonwealth property. Some persons suggest that we should overlook this 500 miles of railway connecting our own Federal Territory with the southern capitals, as though it could be built in an hour or two, and that we should build a new line into Queensland. There is a distance of a little over 1,000 miles between the Katherine River, at the northern end, and Oodnadatta at the southern end, or about the same distance as that between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie.
– It is as important to connect the north and south as to connect the east and west.
– It is more important to connect north and south. It was recognised that both works could not be undertaken at the same time, and I think that it is a pity that the more important railway was not constructed first. From data in my possession, and in the records of the Federal and South Australian Parliament evidence might be given of the valuable character of the country through which the north and south railway would run.. Men living at Alice Springs and in the Macdonnell Ranges will tell you that the country there has a good rainfall on the tablelands, and would grow wheat abundantly. I do not know whether it would grow wheat abundantly, hut we know that it will grow the best cattle and horses to be found in Australia, because we see them in Adelaide and elsewhere every day. In addition such a railway would open up a tremendously rich mineral field of gold, copper, and practically every other mineral, because Central Australia is admitted to be particularly rich in minerals of various kinds.
All this wealth is lying undeveloped because we are obsessed with the necessity of winning the war, and it is claimed that every £1 that we can raise in Australia must be spent upon winning the war. I say that that is rubbish. The money required to construct the northsouth railway could be as easily procured as was the money expended on the east-west railway, or that found for any other necessary public work. I urge upon the Government the necessity of making a start with this work. No one can say how the war will end; but we should put our house in order, and see that something is done to-day, so that when the war is over we shall be in a position to open up this tremendous area of ours in the Northern Territory, which belongs to the people of Australia, and is peculiarly the charge of this Parliament. There is no representative of the Northern Territory in this Parliament, and no one cares a snap of the fingers for the residents in the Northern Territory and the other Territories belonging to the Commonwealth. We do not heaT the voice of the people of the Territory, and, until some provision is made for their political representation, it is the duty of this Parliament to see that nothing is overlooked that will assist the development of that country.
Honorable senators have heard me on the Northern Territory once or twice before. I am not anxious to repeat myself. I had the pleasure some time ago to spend some weeks in the Territory. I subsequently mentioned here some of its needs which came under my observation when I was there. I had the distinguished honour of a reply to my remarks from the Administrator of the Territory, Dr. Gilruth, and by the adoption of a very unusual procedure, that reply was laid on the table of the Senate. Ordinarily a reply to remarks of a member of Parliament is given through the Minister; but the reply of the Administrator of the Northern Territory was laid on the table of the Senate as a paper, and printed. I am not taking exception to that. I am glad that it happened, because it gave me a further opportunity to deal with matters with which I had previously dealt. The Administrator took some of my criticisms as personal to himself. I did not know to what extent the Administrator or the Government were responsible for the state of affairs that I found there. In speaking on the Territory, I was not blaming either, but simply giving an account of things as I found them.
Since then the Northern Territory has not been dealt with as I think it should have been. There have been acts which appear to me to be acts of injustice, committed there. I am concerned on thi3 account, because the result is te discourage good men who go to the Territory, determined to stay there for a number of years. When a man has not been fairly treated in the Northern Territory, it is not unnatural that he should take the earliest opportunity to apply for a transfer south. I know of men who were in the Northern Territory, and were almost delighted when the war broke out. Some of them were over the military age; but they applied for positions in different Departments in the south. Some went away to the war, and others, who were beyond the fighting age, went away as munition workers ; but the result has been that these valuable public servants have left the Northern Territory, and it is the poorer on that account. Had they been better treated while there, I am confident that many of them would be in the Territory to-day.
I take up the last report of the Administrator, and at page 4 I find that he mentions the appointment of a Director of Lands. Honorable senators will remember that a Mr. Ryland, from Queensland, was appointed Director of Lands. After filling the position for’ a considerable time, Mr. Ryland was dismissed from the Service, and a gentleman named Day, who occupied a prominent position in South Australia, and who had been transferred to the Territory was appointed Temporary Director of Lands. He was a surveyor, and. was away carrying out survey work, and so could not give much attention to the question of land settlement. During that period Mr. Worgan, chief draughtsman, and another old South Australian public servant, who had been fifteen years in the Territory, attended to the duties of the office. The Administrator in this report compliments Mr. Worgan in these terms -
I have to express my appreciation of the cheerful and painstaking manner in which Mr. Worgan, Chief Draughtsman, carried out the duties of the office of Director of Lands and Chief” Surveyor during the long interregnum.
That is a reference to the period which elapsed between the dismissal of Mr. Ryland and the appointment as Director of Lands of Mr. Trower, who is another Queenslander. I want to know why Mr. Worgan was overlooked in connexion with this appointment. The course followed was, as a matter of fact, contrary to the Public Service regulations, and was certainly not calculated to make a satisfied staff. It would not be tolerated in any other part of Australia, but anything seems to be good enough for the Northern Territory. Mr. Worgan has been resident in the Territory for fifteen years, and between the dismissal of Mr. Ryland and the appointment of Mr. Trower he has carried out the duties of Director of Lands, and yet he is overlooked when the appointment to that office is made. I do not know anything about Mr. Trower, and I hold no brief for Mr. Worgan, but I do think that, in view of the work the latter has done in the Territory, an officer of his standing should not have been overlooked. I do not know whether he had an opportunity of applying for the position, but I doubt very much whether he had. At any rate, Mr. Worgan, like many other good officers of the Territory, has been very much disappointed, and he may in the near future apply for a transfer south.
There is another man whose name has been before the Senate once or twice, he is a capable and competent officer. He certainly has his faults, and possibly he deserved severe treatment because of certain indiscretions of which he was guilty while in the Service. I refer to Dr. Jensen. There can be no doubt that he did splendid work during the five years he was in the Northern Territory. The bulletins he issued and his reports and plans of mine-fields, &c, in the possession of the Home and Territories Department, as the result of his work, prove him to have been an exceedingly capable officer. He is now doing very important work for the Queensland Government.
– Several pretty capable officers seem to have been there, but we seem to have lost them.
– That is so, and that is why I agree with the honorable senator that an inquiry is required. There must he some reason for all these changes of competent officers. A considerable portion of Dr. Jensen’s work has been lost, because the reports of his last work in the Northern Territory have not been finished and supplied to the Commonwealth Government. During 1915 and 1916, Dr. Jensen, Mr. Winters, and Mr. Gray carried out an extensive geological sur vey of the country from Bridge Creek to the McKenzie River. All these men are now out of the Commonwealth Service. Dr. Jensen was the chief geologist, Mr. Winters was the assistant geologist, and Mr. Gray was a surveyor. Mr. Gray now holds an important position in, I think, the Great Cobar mine. He was not good enough for the Northern Territory, but is quite good enough for one of the biggest mines in Australia. Mr. Winters is doing something in Sydney. The reports of that section of their work were finished and are available, hut later on Dr. Jensen carried out the work from the McKenzie River, examining the country right out to the Coronet Hills. He examined all the mining belt practically from Bridge Creek to Pine Creek, or probably even nearer Darwin. His reports and plans were ready for publication. Almost everything was in order, and he could have finalized the reports on his geological work, covering an area of something like 1,000 square miles, but he was dismissed. The reports have not been furnished to the Department, and that valuable work has been lost to the Commonwealth. .. I hope the Government will see if it is possible for the reports to be obtained even now, so that the work of this expert may not be lost to us, because, whatever Dr. Jensen’s faults may have been, no one questions his ability as a geologist and surveyor. Those reports would have furnished valuable data for the future mining industry of the north, as they cover practically the whole northern mineral belt. No mention is made of the subject in Dr. Gilruth’s report. He dismisses Dr. Jensen in a paragraph in which he says that Dr. Jensen was guilty of having done something in the way of criticising officials, which he ought not to have done, and that he was guilty of improper and disloyal conduct, winding up with these words, “As a result, Dr. Jensen was requested by the Minister to resign. He refused to do so. He was ultimately dismissed from the Service.” That is how Dr. Jensen was turned out of the Northern Territory, after his five years of valuable service. Much of that time Dr. Jensen spent out on the hills, living like a blackfellow. All he had was a quart pot, a bag of flour, and a black boy to keep him company. He went out and lived almost like the blacks in order to do bis scientific work in a country that was very difficult to travel over; and this is how he was treated. According to the report, a good portion of his work is credited to others, and the subject is dismissed with a paltry reference that would certainly not secure him a situation in any other part of the world. All this is an evidence of paltry spite on the part of somebody, which is hard to understand, and certainly ought to be condemned by any one who knows anything about the Territory. Two other officers, Mr. T. J. Beckett, who was Protector of Aborigines, and Mr. R. J. Winters, who was Dr. Jensen’s assistant, were discharged. The Administrator gives as a reason: “In the interests of economy the position of Chief Inspector of Aborigines and of Assistant Geologist were recently abolished, and Messrs. T. J. Beckett and R. J. Winters respectively left the Service.” Their combined salaries did not amount to ?800 per year, yet they were dismissed in the interests of economy! I can imagine that the consequent saving will put the finances of the Northern Territory on a sound basis. As a matter of fact, neither of those gentlemen was dismissed in the interests of economy, according to the reasons given to them. Mr. Beckett was under suspension for a good many weeks before he was dismissed. He was fighting the Administrator, who was then in Melbourne, and the Government Secretary, who was then in Darwin - fighting them for his life. I have not been able to discover why Mr. Winters’ services were dispensed with, but if there is one country on earth that requires a competent and capable protector of aborigines - and Mr. Beckett had the name of being one of the best - or the services of a capable geologist, it is the Northern Territory, where so much scientific work has to be done. Mr. Winters was considered to be a. very capable geologist. He was merely informed that his position was abolished because it was unnecessary. He was even refused the customary certificate as to his character and capabilities for the work he was doing. When his services were dispensed with he asked for a certificate to enable him to apply for any position that became vacant, but he was refused a certificate from the Department. Ultimately one was sent to him by Mr. Oliver, the Director of Mines, who is now occupying Dr. Jensen’s old position, but under whom Mr. Winters never served. To show how this Department, not only in Darwin, but in Melbourne, deals with its employees who are thrown on one side, the following is the letter Mr. Winters received from the Home and Territories Department: -
Home and Territories Department,
Melbourne, 2nd June, 1917.
Mr. R. J. Winters, 85 KingStreet, Newtown,
Referring to your letter of the 12th April last, and my reply thereto of the 19th idem, I now forward herewith a certificate in regard to your services in the Northern Territory.
Atlee Hunt, Secretary.
Department of Mines, Darwin, 16th May, 1917.
This is to certify that Mr. R. J. Winters was associated with this Department for a period extending from November, 1912, to the 6th February, 1917, when his position was abolished by the Honorable the Minister for Home and Territories.
During the above period his duties were carried out to the satisfaction of the Chief Government Geologist.
Director of Mines.
Honorable senators may be sure that Mr. Winters did not leave the Territory with any gratitude in his heart towards the authorities either there or here. But that is not the worst. In December, 1915, he was sent to Sydney on departmental work, but was refused payment of his fare and expenses. The reason assigned for that treatment is set out in the following statement : -
During the dry season of 1915 Dr. Jensen, G. J. Gray, and myself were engaged on an extensive bit of geological work in the Margaret River district, the results of which have been published as a Bulletin. In connexion with our investigations, representative rocks of the different areas were collected and classified in Darwin. In order that our determinations of the nature and origin of the various rockforming minerals of the different areas be verified, it was necessary to do this microscopically by means of micro, slides made from each of a particular series of rocks so fine in texture and alteration, as is characteristic of the pre-Cambrian formation of the Territory. We had a fine microscope in the Darwin office, but no means of cutting rock sections. Dr. Jensen, as Chief Government Geologist, asked me to undertake the work of preparing the rock slides at the Sydney University, where’ there is a complete plant for doing the necessary cutting. Acting Professor Cotton was communicated with, and permission was granted by him for me to work there for the Department. At the beginning of the wet season in December, 1915, when our work on the field was finished, Dr. Jensen applied to the Administrator for permission to send me to Sydney to carry out this work. At this time I had been in the Territory three years, and was anxious to carry out the work for the Department and at the same time to have an opportunity of seeing my people.
The Administrator sent for Dr. Jensen and I and the. matter was discussed, and it was decided that I was to proceed to Sydney by the s.s. Montoro on the 12th December, 1915, and return by the first steamer at the end of January, and whilst in that city to put in the whole of the time on the Government work. I was to apply on my return for refund of money paid for steamer fares and out-of-pocket expenses.
I took with me a large case of rock specimens, and arrived in Sydney on the 24th December. That afternoon I saw Mr. Cotton, and arranged to work in the laboratory during the Christmas vacation, when the staff were absent on their holidays. Work was commenced on the 27th December, and continued daily (excepting Sundays) from 9 to 5 p.m. until the 29th January, during which time I completed over eighty micro, slides. On the latter date I wired Dr. Jensen that I had finished the work, and received a reply from him instructing me to put in the remaining two days (the return steamer left on the 1st February) interviewing firms and obtaining particulars of laboratory materials for the Darwin office. I carried out these instructions, and returned to Darwin on the 12th February.
Some days later I made an application to the Chief Government Geologist for transmission to the Administrator, asking for a refund of £32 10s. which I had paid for my steamer ticket. This was refused by the Administrator, notwithstanding the fact that Dr. Jensen recommended payment, being satisfied that the work I did was of a first class nature.
As I was fully occupied on Government work during the period of my stay in Sydney, I consider I was entitled at least to my steamer fare, but the Administrator contended that, as I had an opportunity of getting a change away from the Territory during the hot season, I should have been satisfied to bear the expense.
This is the kind of treatment that was meted out to a man who spent over two months of his holiday leave doing Government work in Sydney. When he. went back the Administrator not only refused to pay his steamer fare, but also the expenses he had incurred in Sydney. How can we expect to find a contented population in the Northern Territory under such conditions?
I do not want to take up too much time discussing the personal affairs of the Government employees in the Northern Territory, but I want to remind the Senate that in the speech which I made on the 27th September, 1916, I had something to say about many things that were disturbing the public mind in the Territory, and amongst other matters I referred to the Batchelor Farm, which, I pointed out, had sufficient plant lying idle to work a 3,000-acre farm. Dr. Gilruth, in his reply, no doubt thought that he had silenced me when he stated that the area of the farm was 2,560 acres. After all, I did not make a bad guess, because I said the plant was big enough to work a 3,000-acre farm, although, as a matter of fact, I did not know the extent of the property. But, after all, it is not a question of how big a farm may be, so much as how much of the area is being worked with the plant available. This information is contained in the re port by the manager of the farm, Mr. Love, a man who impressed me as being an excellent manager, and I think I expressed my admiration for the amount of work which he got out of the natives. I believe he is doing practically the whole work of the farm with the natives and one white man. In his report to the Administrator, Mr. Love states that the quantity of land being worked amounts to 74 acres. This is one of the matters in connexion with which Dr. Gilruth has endeavoured to deceive this Parliament, because, while he said the farm area was 2,560 acres, he did not mention how much of the land was being worked. Mr. Love’s report gives the details of cultivation as follows: - Rice, 12 acres; maize, 16 acres; amber cane, 5 acres; broom millet, 10 acres; cotton, .10 acres; rape, 6 acres; Sudan grass, 1 acre; bananas, 2 acres; lucerne, 1 acre; onions, acre, and 300 acres of the scrub land sown with grass. Thus, with a plant sufficient to work a 3,000-acre farm, the actual area under cultivation is only 74 acres, although Dr. Gilruth in his reply to my statement gave the impression that the whole area was being worked.
I did intend, also, to deal at some length with the treatment of the aborigines, because I fell foul of Dr. Gilruth on the last occasion, when I said that 25s. a week was an outrageous price to pay to a blackfellows because as soon as he got it he went down to a Chinamen’s den and got 2s. 6d. worth of stuff for his 25s. That was the point I made, but Dr. Gilruth refrained from remarking upon it in his reply. In the course of my remarks I also said that the blacks were not kept under sufficient control, and the health officer, Dr. Jones, a very excellent nian, in his recommendations for the treatment of blacks in the future, indorses every word of what I said. The chief protector, Mr. Carey, who is also Dr. Gilruth’s secretary, likewise supports my view, and Mr. McDonald, who is now in Mr. Beckett’s place in charge of the camp near Darwin, substantiates every word of it. If it were not that I would take up too much time of the Senate, I would read some of these statements in order to have them included in Hansard; but the reports are available for honorable senators or for anybody else who cares to read them.
When speaking on Territory affairs on the last occasion, I dealt with the conditions of the hotels, which constitute a sore point with the residents of Darwin. I had no hesitation in condemning them as being altogether unsuitable, and a disgrace to the Commonwealth Government. I believe that, according to reports we are getting, that they are very little better now, although about £8,000 has been spent upon them. In view of this I do not withdraw one word of what I said. If I could find stronger language in whicli to express my views, I would do so. But I will not give my own opinion. I shall quote some statements which appeared in the local paper, the Northern Territory Times and Gazette, the official publication for Darwin.” Under date, Saturday, 11th May, there appeared a report of a public indignation meeting called in response to a petition signed by over forty residents, to discuss the liquor ordinance. It was presided over by the Mayor, Councillor D. C. Watts, and, summarized, the statements made at the meeting were as follow : -
Finally it was resolved unanimously-
That this public meeting of the citizens oi Darwin, in the Territory, recognises that the failure of the present administration to put hotel business on a satisfactory basis from a public stand-point is due to the continual interference of the Administrator in this Department, and the hampering of his expert.
That it demands the interference of the Commonwealth Government forthwith, so thai the -State hotel business should be put on a satisfactory basis, and not left to the idiosyncrasies of the present Administration.
That patrons be supplied with liquor oi various brands as in other hotels.
That if bulk whisky be supplied to the public a proper plant for breaking down be immediately installed, and not the present killstonedead method.
That this meeting recognises the difficulties
Hilder which the supervisor is labouring.
It was also decided - That, as various grievances aru continually recurring in the Territory, it is imperative that an elective advisory Board be appointed forthwith to report to the Minister- the conditions appertaining here.
I am quite sure that if hotels in tha southern States were conducted under the same conditions, we would all be joining Senator Thomas’s brigade. I quote now from a letter sent to me by a correspondent early in May - “ No doubt you have read all about the hotels. It is quite true; the whole thing wants putting into the sea. The grog is rotten. If the old publicans sold or ever had such muck on their premises, the people would have hung them. We have seen men just take two nips and go mad.”
The names are given of some persons who are said to have died after taking too much drink. The correspondent continues: -
Surely the Government will do something to right this sort of business? The price is 20?. for a bottle of square gin, for which we used to pay 8s. The Chinamen get a couple of bottles of grog from the store and make gallons of all sorts of booze. The mcn call it “ sudden death.”
I ask honorable senators to read the report of the Administrator. There is nothing as to this kind of stuff in his report upon hotels. He says the liquor portion is paying, but the dining portion is not. That is not unusual. In many cases the bar pays for the dining rooms and the bedrooms. It has been stated that the dregs of the bar were tipped into the casks from which the pump was drawing the beer.
– Do you think the Admiwistrator had anything to do with that?
– I am not going to express an opinion. I should hope that nomanwould do it. The time is more than ripe ‘ for Parliament to take some steps to do something with the Northern Territory, to give the people there a right to let their voices be heard in this Legislature. I moved in the Senate in December last for a Select Committee to be appointed to visit the Territory. But the exigencies of political life made that impossible. I do not wish to move for a Royal Commission, but these things should be taken notice of. I trust the Govern- ment will take steps to let the people of Darwin clear these matters up. Large numbers of men are employed there now at the Vestey meat works. Even in the off-season they number 300 to 400 hands; while, at killing time, there are very many employed in addition. Besides those there is the ordinary population of the town and district. If a tithe of these things which are said to occur in Darwin are really true, it will not be a fit place to live in soon. In any other part of Australia the Federal representative of that district or State would see to it that nothing of the kind was permitted to exist. The outcry would be too great; but in the Territory it is nobody’s business. What is wanted is a better form of local government. At present there is a district council which attends to the domestic affairs of Darwin; but, outside of that, so long as a man keeps clear of the police, every individual is a law unto himself.
I am glad that, generally speaking, there is an improvement in the affairs of the Territory. Without doubt, the great Vestey meat works will perform wonders at Darwin if proper precautions are taken and opportunity is provided for the firm to get its goods away. The mining industry is looking up. The only thing that is languishing: is agriculture. Farms have been abandoned, largely because the men who took them up were not experienced. I again urge that the Government will endeavour to bring about a happier state of affairs and immediately set out upon the development of our important Federal Possession.
.- After waiting too long, I am afraid, we have made some kind of a start at shipbuilding. Eight steamers are now to be constructed at Williamstown, six at Walsh Island, and two at Devonport; while fourteen wooden vessels are to be built in America and about another dozen in Australia. I quite appreciate the difficulties to be encountered in any scheme of shipbuilding. I have realized throughout that we have not the mechanics in Australia to go in for any extensive scheme of shipbuilding, particularly of steel vessels. Take, for instance, Tasmania. Although I am glad to observe that a firm at Devonport have taken on the construction of two steel ships, yet I am doubtful as to the speed with which they will be able to carry out their contract. I do not know how they will get shipbuilders to go over there. I have stated before, in this chamber, that we should have directed more attention to the building of wooden ships. Though we have not a large number of shipwrights in the Commonwealth, still, what men we have might well have been put to work in constructing wooden vessels. We should have had our timber ready some time ago, because it requires to be seasoned to some extent. There are timbers in Australia as well suited as any in the world for the building of ships. The bluegum of Tasmania, I am given to understand by experts, is not to be beaten in any part of the globe. In the past, bottoms have been built of bluegum and have stood the test for years and years, and, at the end of sixteen and eighteen years, they have proved better, if anything, than on the day they were launched.
– You wait until they bump up against our jarrah ships.
– That is very good timber, also. I should be glad to see a start made with building jarrah ships as well. But, to my knowledge, the bluegum is equal to anything, anywhere. What we should have done a year or two ago was to have started to build ships of from 500 tons up to 1,000 tons. With those vessels we could possibly have done a good deal of the work along the Australian coast, and thus have released the bigger ships for oversea trade. I appreciate the difficulties, but to delay making a start is not to improve those difficulties in any way.
I was particularly glad a little while ago to observe that the Governor-General had called a Recruiting Conference, with the object of removing obstacles that stood in the way of bringing about better harmony among the various classes of Australia. I hoped that something would have resulted from that Conference. I am still hopeful, but the results are not yet showing too plainly. Unfortunately, in the past, certain men have been the victims of a vendetta, notwithstanding that numbers of their dependants were practically starving. I started one day to mention in this chamber - but found myself out of order - a case which had been brought under my personal notice of a man named Burrows - one of. the most honorable, straightforward, and industrious men I have known; and, because he belonged to the Waterside Workers Union he was refused any class of labour at all in Burnie. On one occasion a ship put into that port. The captain, knowing this man, and that he, with a number of others similarly situated, was a competent workman, and that it would pay him to employ such hands to discharge his ship, took them on. But nearly every business man in the town approached the captain to have the men put off. Apparently these individuals should not have the right to live. The captain replied that he had engaged the men, and would keep them on. He held that they could do the job 50 per cent, more quickly and better than any other men the merchants of Burnie could supply him. But the next time that vessel put in at Burnie the merchants communicated with the owner, and the captain was forbidden to employ any of those workers. Burrows had been five or six months out of work, but nobody would employ him. The same sort of thing has happened in Launceston. There were men there who had been out of work for eight months. They were competent men, and the work they do. will compare with that of any others in Australia.
– Are they the men who went out on strike at the time of the waterside workers’ strike?
– There was no strike at Launceston.
– There was at Burnie.
– But I am speaking now of Launceston. These men were locked out. The employers may have assumed that they intended to strike, but, as a matter of fact, they never did strike. On the particular day upon which they were supposed to have struck, the steamer Rotomahana arrived at the wharf, and a number of men were engaged to work her. In addition, a certain number were usually employed to coal the vessel. But a party of the men who usually coaled the steamer upon its arrival went down to the wharf on that day, and waited for twenty minutes to see whether they would be engaged, and then, thinking that they were not going to be employed, left the wharf and went home.
– Are those particular men still being refused employment by the steam-ship company?
– Yes. More than that, a returned soldier went to work there., and the manager of Huddart, Parker instructed the wharfinger that he was not to be employed until he had joined the so-called loyalist union. The name of this man is Wilson.
– I take it that the honorable senator cannot hold either the Commonwealth Government or the State Government responsible for the action of the steam-ship company.
– I am not blaming the Minister in any way. Prior to this time it had always been the custom to employ the men required to coal a vessel immediately before or immediately after her arrival at the wharf. But the action of the men who usually coaled the vessel in leaving the wharf twenty minutes after the steamer arrived, was construed into a strike.
– It looked very much like it._
– I know a bit about this matter, because my own son is the secretary of that particular organization, and only recently, when a case was before the Arbitration Court, in Melbourne, one steam-ship company sent over at least six witnesses to give evidence of the character to which I have referred. But they failed miserably to establish their case; and, notwithstanding all that has been said to the contrary, I affirm that these men in Launceston did not go upon strike. Despite that fact, they are suffering to-day because the preference which they previously enjoyed has been taken from them. I am anxious that it should be restored to them. In numbers of other instances an amount of victimization and suffering has been imposed upon persons who ought not to be subjected to these evils.
There is another matter to which I have long intended to refer - an anomaly which exists under our War Pensions Act. Until eight or nine months ago I did not know that, under that Act, the mother of soldiers killed at the Front is entitled to a pension of £1 per week for every son that she loses, whereas the wife, who is just as close a relative of a soldier, is only entitled to £1 per week.
– How many husbands has she?
– It is all very well to made fun out of my suggestion. The fact remains that a mother may get £Q per week by way of pension, if she has six sons killed at’ the war.
– But suppose that she loses only one son.
– Under the Act she is entitled to a pension of £1 per week for each son that she loses.
– But, under the existing law, a woman can lose only one husband at a time.
– And she cannot get more than £1 per week by way of pension. The matter came under my notice in this way. More than six months after her two sons had been killed at the Front, an old widow came to me, and. informed me that everybody had told her that she was not entitled to a pension. I assured her that she was, and that she could get £1 per week. “When I saw the Deputy Commissioner of Pensions in Tasmania, to my surprise he said, “ This is one of the anomalies under the Act. If this woman had lost six sons she would be entitled to a pension of £6 per week. In addition, if she choose to apply, she could get the old-age pension.” But I did not tell her that. The Deputy Commissioner further informed me that, though she might be a disreputable woman, who had paid no regard to her sons, who had practically deserted them, she would still be entitled to .£6 per week if she had lost six sons at the war.
– Would she not have to prove dependence on the sons?
– In this particular instance the woman stated in her application form that she had not received a shilling from her sons during the twelve months immediately preceding the war.
– The Deputy Commissioner was wrong. A woman is entitled to a pension only to the extent of her dependence on the killed or wounded soldier.
– I have told honora”ble senators the finding of the Commissioner of Pensions, and also of the Deputy Commissioner in Tasmania. The anomaly to which I have referred is one which ought not to exist, because the pension is not given as a recompense for a life which has been lost, but to safeguard the recipient against poverty. Somebody says that such cases will not arise very often. But the principle involved is the same irrespective of whether the cases be few or many. I say that the wife of a soldier is his nearest relative.
– What does the honorable senator suggest in the case with which he is dealing ?
– I suggest that something less than £6 per week should be paid to a -woman who has lost six sons at the war.
– I think that the honorable senator has been given wrong information.
– I have stated the facts as I know them. I filled in the application form for this particular woman, and I waited, on the Deputy Commissioner for Tasmania in reference to her claim. Not only did I see that officer, but I also interviewed the Deputy Commissioner of Victoria.
– I think that the honorable senator will do that woman harm.
– I do not wish to do anybody harm. But I have a bigger duty devolving upon me than that - the duty of seeing that the interests of the Commonwealth are safeguarded.
– If the Act is as the honorable senator says, it ought to be altered.
– I had the Act turned up, and the very section in it which makes provision in the direction I have indicated was pointed out to me. But I do not think that it was ever intended that such a condition should apply.
This afternoon . Senator Keating referred to the Public -Service Act. I shall not make more than a very brief reference to the conditions that apply under that Act. It provides that an officer with twenty years of service is entitled to six months’ furlough or six months’ pay. But if he has only nineteen years of service to his credit evidently he is entitled to nothing. This matter came under my notice in this way: A very capable, honest, and industrious officer of the Commonwealth recently died in Launceston. His service extended over nineteen years and some months. Whatever may be the difficulty in the way, I hope that his widow will be compensated, because the officer was not receiving a large salary. But if an employee of the Commonwealth is entitled to anything after twenty years’ service, surely he ought to be entitled to something . after nineteen years, or even ten years’ service ! If he is entitled to something after twenty years’ service, he certainly ought to be entitled to more after forty years’ service. It seems to me that the allowance should be graded in some way. In Tasmania the allowance is made, proportionate to an officer’s term of service. I mention this matter in the hope that something will be done in the case of this particular officer, who died comparatively young. Had he remained in the Tasmanian Public Service he would, upon his retirement, have been entitled to so much for each year of service. But because of his transfer to the Commonwealth, and because he had not quite twenty years of service to his credit, he was entitled to nothing.
I entirely concur in the sentiments which were expressed yesterday by Senator Gardiner in relation to terms of peace. In my very first utterance in this Chamber I said that I hated war as I hated sin.
– Do we not all hate war?
– I hope so. I abhor that school of thought which glories in war, and which affirms that the more warlike nations are the greatest nations. Honorable senators know the school of thought to which I refer. I have no sympathy with it. But while listening last night to the utterances of Senator
Bakhap, who referred to the present war as being a war of science, and who spoke of the production of destructive gases, the thought flashed across my mind that he was supplying a very good argument, not for his own case, but for mine. Possibly it is a good thing that I did not try to become a chemist, as I might have blown myself up. I remember that even when I was going to school I used to think that if ever- war was to be prevented in this world it would be through some one discovering a powerful gas that would kill all life on the Front. That idea seems very near realization. War has now become a fight between scientists and chemists, and it is not improbable that in the near future we shall have some one producing a gas so destructive that all life will simply wither up under it. That would end . the war, but it would mean a very bad time for the armies in the field if one had a weapon of that kind to use against the other.
Some time or other we have to meet our opponents in conference. The longer we delay to do so the greater the number of human lives that will be lost. Some persons say that this is not the time for peace negotiations. That may be so from our point of view ; but if it is not the time for us because we are underneath, it will not be the time for our opponents when they are underneath. I hope to see the war brought to a termination. I hope that before very long we shall have negotiations of some kind with our opponents. If they. are not prepared to meet us, we must go on with the war, and if they are not prepared to agree to reasonable terms we must continue the struggle.
I have a word or two to say on the all important question of the price of meat. I am sorry that the return supplied by Mr. Knibbs, and quoted by Senator Grant, is not at present available. I am afraid that from the manner in which it was read honorable senators did not quite grasp the figures it contained. During the few minutes in which I had it in my hands I made a copy of the prices charged for beef in the State butchers’ shops in Brisbane as compared with the prices in Hobart. I found that the price of sirloin in Brisbane is 6.50d. per lb., as against 11.90d. in Hobart, a difference of 5.40d., or very nearly double the price in Brisbane. The price for rib in Brisbane is 4.50d., and in Hobart 10.40d., a difference of 6d. per lb., or more than double the Brisbane price. Flank, 3.50d. in Brisbane, as “against 8.90d. in Hobart, a difference of 5.40d. Shin, Brisbane, 4d., Hobart, 8.80d., a difference of 4.S0d., or more than twice the Brisbane price. Rump steak is 7.50d. in Brisbane, and 14.70d. in Hobart. Shoulder steak, 5.50d. in Brisbane, and 10.50d. in Hobart; buttock, 5.50d. in Brisbane, and 10.20d. in Hobart. The difference between the price of rump steak in Brisbane and the price in Hobart is 7.20d. per lb.
– Is meat imported into Tasmania?
– It is sometimes imported and exported at the same time. I have been going to Tasmania from Melbourne when the boat has been loaded with sheep, and on the return trip the boat has been loaded with meat, which was being exported to Victoria.
– They hand feed in winter in Tasmania.
– There is not much hand-feeding done. I find that corned roll is sold in Brisbane at 5.50d. per lb., and in Hobart at 31.50d. per lb., a difference of 6d. per lb.
– Is the honorable senator aware that cattle are “not ‘admitted in Tasmania under the quarantine law?
– I have seen cattle brought into Tasmania, and sheep are taken there by thousands.
– I approve of the quarantine laws of Tasmania, because I understand that that State is practically free from disease.
– It is free from the disease which is so objectionable to the pastoralists. Let me continue the comparison of these prices. Brisket, with bone, costs 3.50d. per lb. in Brisbane, andS.30d. in Hobart, a difference of 5.20d. Brisket, without bone, is 6.76d. in Brisbane, and 10.48d. in Hobart. I have mentioned these prices because it seems to me that the importance of this question is such that it will be forced upon the attention of the Government. I am as confident as that I stand here that they will be compelled to take notice of the public outcry on this subject.
– ‘There nas recently been a fall in the price of meat in Tas mania owing to the operation of natural causes.
– I am not aware of that. I am pretty confident that the prices- are the same now as they were three monthsago.
Last week I referred to the case. of a soldier who had been wounded at the Front, and whose mother was anxious to get him home. She wrote on the subject to the Department of Defence, and I also wrote. After the lad had arrived in Australia I got-a notice from the Department that after serious consideration they could not permit him to leave England. I have here the letter from the Department, and a letter from the mother of the soldier. I am referring to the case now because from the reply the Minister for Defence made to me, the public might beled to believe that it was not possible that a letter could be issued from the Department in the terms of the letter I received,, after the soldier referred to had returned to Australia.
– Surely the honorable senator does not think that the Department communicates- with England or France upon every application of the kind. ‘
– The’ Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) does not know what occurred. In this; case the Defence Department notified the* press of Australia that this man, amongst others, was in Australian waters, on his return. Days and weeks after this notification I received the notice that they could not, after serious consideration, permit the man to come back. I know that the soldier’s mother got her notification of his return nearly three weeks before I received my letter from the Department. This kind of thing arouses a. suspicion in the minds of the people as to the way in which the work of the Department is being conducted. I do notcare to publish the letter from this man’s mother in Hansard, but if I did the public would know what she thinks of the Department. The lad in this case left England on the 2nd January, and the mother received from the Department a notification that he was in Australian waters on the 5th or 6th February. That was not the date upon which the notice was written, but the date on which it was received. 1 received my letter from the De- partment on the 2Sth February. It was written with authority, and informed me that after giving the matter very serious consideration, it was regretted that it was quite impossible to take the action (that was desired, namely, to have the man returned.
– The main thing is that the boy came back, and the mother saw her boy.
– No; the honorable senator does not understand the case. The main thing in this matter is that because of what has occurred, a public impression is created that the Defence Department is very lax in such matters. I told the Minister, at the time, that I did not blame him ; but this sort of thing ought to be corrected. I only mentioned the matter to show that I was absolutely correct in what I said the other night.
– It is regrettable; but in a big organization mistakes in details cannot altogether be avoided.
– Are we never to mention these things, or try to find a remedy for them ? They create a certain amount of dissatisfaction in the public mind.
I have previously mentioned the case of Mrs. Hinds, an invalid widow with two young children, whose step-son was killed at the Front. When she was being examined, she became confused, and said she did not get very much support from the step-son before he went away. If she had been his mother, instead of his step-mother, she could have shown that she would have been dependent on him had he remained in Australia, and would have got a pension ; but as things are, she cannot get a penny. The step-son has been killed, her husband is dead, she has & certificate from a doctor that she is incapacitated for work, and she has two or three young children.
– Was she dependent on the step-son?
– She was, to some extent, and she says now that she would have been entirely dependent on him; but in giving her evidence before the Registrar she said he contributed only a certain amount towards the upkeep of the house.
– If she was dependent on him, she is entitled to a pension, according to my reading of the Act.
– I interviewed the Deputy Commissioner, and he assured me that she could not get a pension, although he expressed strong sympathy with 1 t and said he would Tike to grant it to her, because the case was very deserving. If that case does not come within the Act, some sort of statutory rule should be provided to enable it to be met.
– I believe I was wrong in the statement I made just now by interjection. I misread the section.
– The Deputy Commissioner was very sure of his ground when I saw him. I hope an opportunity will be taken by the Government to make provision for cases of the kind.
– And when the provision is made, it ought to be retrospective.
– I would not object to that.
In Launceston, there are occasions when postmen have to deliver postal matter after dark. Each letter-carrier is supplied with a bicycle, but honorable senators will scarcely credit that the Department will not provide them with lamps. They are finable if they do not carry a light on their bicycles after dark; and how are they to read the addresses on the mail matter without a light ? This is a small matter; but it ought to be attended to, because if the carriers make mistakes in deliveries they will be called to book.
The following is a case which the Defence Department ought to take up. I have sent the particulars to the Minister for Defence, and believe that he will do his best to remedy the trouble, as I have always found him willing to do so in other cases. A young man named Leslie Burke served his time as a cadet, and at eighteen was drafted into the Citizen Forces (the Artillery). He was notified to attend a certain camp. His employer, a grocer named Crabtree, in Launceston, tried to induce him to allow him to get an exemption for him. The lad refused, because he thought it was his duty to go to camp, and he went. Two days after he went, his father received a letter/ and went to the shop, where Crabtree told him that he did not want his son any more. The reason he gave was that the lad was insulting to customers. When asked, the grocer would not tell him the name of one customer to whom this applied so that the father might ascertain if the accusation was true. The lad’s mother interviewed him, and he told her the same story. When the lad returned from camp, he went to the employer and said, “ I understand you have stated that I have been insulting to customers. Will you tell me the name of one?” The employer replied, “Your father misunderstood what I said.” He also made a number of statements, backing and filling, which clearly proved that he dismissed the lad because he went to camp. When he heard that proceedings were being instituted against him, he got two of his employees to go to the military department and tell the department that to their knowledge the lad was going to be dismissed whether he went to camp or net. Although it is a difficult case to prove, the Defence Department ought to take proceedings against that man, so as to let the public know what his actions have been.
– If the Crown Law authorities said there was not sufficient evidence, would you advise the Minister to go into Court?
– With the evidence available, a decent lawyer would probably get a conviction, especially if he crossquestioned this man and the two employees I referred to.
– Did you submit that evidence to the Department?
– No. I thought it was the place of the Department to protect the men that go into camp. Even if the Department did not get a conviction, the prosecution would act as a deterrent to other employers who felt inclined to serve their young men in the same way. I believe the man who did that sort of thing would rather lose £50 than risk a public exposure, because scores of people would withdraw their custom from him.
– I am sure the Minister would help you, if you would give him a lead.
– I have sent the case along to him, and trust that he will act.
– As I have no doubt you are aware, sir, a Select Committee was appointed by the Senate to deal with the question of intoxicating liquors in relation to the soldiers. That Committee has met, drawn up its first progress report, and presented it to the Senate. The Government have accepted one of the two recommendations. Senator Millen said the Government was anxious, before adopting the second recommendation-
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
– I merely wished to point out that the Minister gave as one reason why -the Government had not yet decided to adopt the second recommendation, that the Committee had not finished its labours. One reason why the Committee has not finished its labours is that it is of the opinion that it has not money enough to do so. As Chairman of the Committee, I have sent on to you a statement of the amount the Committee deems necessary to enable it to finish its work. You have been good enough, according to a letter I received from you, to send that letter on to the Government. Up to the present, I have received no reply from the Government. I therefore, take it that the Government have not yet replied as to whether the Committee is to have the necessary money or not.
– That is correct.
– As a member of the Committee I should not be prepared to attach my name to a final report unless we were in a position, by having the necessary funds placed at our disposal, to make what I consider to be a full inquiry. I know there are reasons possibly why money may not be available. I can quite understand that if a Committee are extravagant the Government would naturally decline to place any more money at their disposal to prosecute their inquiries, especially if there was a suggestion that they were throwing about money in tips to people with a recklessness which perhaps an Eastern potentate might envy. I think, myself, that if a Committee were extravagant, money ought not to be granted to them.
The press, I believe, have expressed disapproval of the expenditure of money for Select Committees in general and this Committee in particular; but the press are sometimes prone to find fault with Parliament and the way in which Parliament spends its money, and I remember on one of those, shall I say, rather rare occasions when you yourself were good enough to come down to this Chamber and speak to us, you used these words -
Instead of this continual vomiting-
There is something refreshing about that word - of abuse upon the refreshment room and every other institution of Parliament, these newspapers would do well to make themselves better acquainted with the facts, and be a little more fair and just in their criticism.
These are not my words, but words which you, yourself, were good enough to use on one of the occasions to which I have referred. And I take it that your remarks, applying to criticism of the refreshment room and every other institution of Parliament, included Select Committees, which, of course, are part of the institution of Parliament. Personally, I do not worry a great deal what the newspapers may say concerning the doings of Parliament. If Parliament is extravagant, I think the press are justified in criticism ; but, whether I approve of their actions or not, they would please themselves, and, if they thought fit, would criticise Parliament. .What you, yourself, said in regard to this matter is, I think, quite sufficient by way of reply to any such criticism.
On another occasion, however, you, Mr. President, were good enough to say this -
I say advisedly that in all my experience this is the most extravagant Committee that I have known.
You were then referring to the Intoxicants Committee, and, as a member of that Committee, naturally I felt your statement a little more than I would have felt any criticism in the press, for when the President of the Senate, and especially a President who, like yourself, has had great, and varied, and extensive experience, is good enough to say what you said then, the Government might hesitate to grant more money to the Committee. The Government might consider your statement a legitimate reason for withholding funds. I have no doubt that the Government would naturally take notice of what you said about the Committee, and possibly to some extent they are influenced by your statement.
Now I know it is very difficult to compare like with like as regards Select Committees, but I am rather fortunate, I think, in that I am able to some extent to make this comparison. On the 19th August, 1915, a Select Committee of the Senate was appointed to inquire into, and report upon, the conduct of the Deputy Postmaster -General for the State of Tasmania in connexion with ap plications for the removal of the postoffice premises at Mount Balfour, in that State. In the course of their inquiries, members of the Committee went to Tasmania. I have looked up the Committee minutes, and at one meeting over which Senator Long, the Chairman, presided, it was resolved that the Chairman should represent to the President of the Senate that the Committee was of the opinion that members of a Select Committee should be on the same footing with regard to travelling allowances as members of a Royal Commission. The minutes of a subsequent meeting disclosed that the Chairman had seen the President, in compliance with the resolution, regarding the travelling expenses of members of the Committee, and that the President had informed him that he had no power whatever to authorize expenditure beyond what was sanctioned by the practice and custom in respect of all such committees since the Federal Parliament was established; that provision was always made for out-of-pocket expenses, and that, however much he would like to do so, he could take no action which would place that Committee on a different footing from any that had preceded it. Apparently your reply on that occasion was a courteous way of saying you did not approve of the suggestion. You did not say what you would have done if you had had the power, nor did you say that it was not necessary for the Committee to go to Tasmania, or that they could bring their witnesses over to Melbourne. If you had, I venture to say that the Chairman of the Committee would have reported on those lines.
I have had an opportunity of finding out just what the Committee of which I am Chairman spent in Tasmania as compared with the Committee to which I am now referring, and also, to some extent, of comparing the work done. The Committee appointed to inquire into the removal of the Mount Balfour post-office went across to Tasmania, and examined four witnesses. In Hobart they spent two days, and in Launceston one day. They sat in Tasmania on three days, and the total expenditure was £90 0s. 3d. It is only fair to say, however, that witnesses’ fees totalled £27 3s. 6d., leaving the actual expenses of -the Committee at £62 16s. 9d. They were away from Melbourne for nine days, and in Tasmania for seven days, for the examination of four witnesses. Now, the Intoxicants Committee went across to Tasmania, and examined twenty -nine witnesses. We were in Hobart for four days, in Launceston for one day, and we sat in Tasmania on five days, examining twentynine witnesses. Altogether, we were away from Melbourne for eleven days, our total expenditure for the visit was £96 15s. Id., as compared with the outofpocket expenses, if it may be put that way, of the other Committee, amounting to £62 16s. 9d. This amount included, of course, “the expenses of the secretary, Mansard reporter, and messenger, as I have no doubt was also the case with the other Committee, whose expenditure amounted to £62 16s. 9d. I am quite prepared to say that the number of witnesses examined is not a fair criterion of the work done, because four witnesses might take a whole week and be far more important than twenty others. I quite admit all that, but I have no objection whatever to an examination into the importance, time occupied-, and the questions asked of witnesses by either of the Committees. The whole of the cost of the one Committee was £90 3s., including £27 3s. 6d. for witnesses’ expenses. But, in dealing with the four witnesses in the case of the Balfour Committee, the cost amounted to £22 10s. per witness. Our Committee examined twenty-nine witnesses, which, at £96 15s.’ Id., amounted to £3 7s. per witness. But that, of course, is not a fair criterion. One witness might be -of much more importance than twenty others, and one might take longer to examine than all the rest. The earlier Committee was away for nine days. In dealing with the sum of £62 16s. 9d., which was the actual outofpocket expenses, that amounts to £6. 19s. 6d. a day. That is leaving out the sum of £27 3s. 6d. for witnesses’ expenses. The Intoxicants Committee was in Tasmania for eleven days. We spent £96 15s. Id. during that time. That works out at £8 16s. a day, or £1 16s. a day more if we deal merely with the out-of-pocket expenses of the Committee. If, however, the £90 3s. is taken into consideration, which includes witnesses’ expenses and the cost pf the Committee, it equals £10 a day, as against £8 16s. I will now compare the £8 16s. as against the £6 19s. 6d., which will be putting our Committee in the worst possible position, as againstplacing the other in the best light.
It is only fair to say of the Committee of which I was chairman that, while our expenses were £1 16s. a day more, Senator Long, who was one of the members of theother Committee, resided in Hobart, and,, consequently, no expenses could be paid to him, since his Committee was sitting at his place of residence, so we had the expenses of six members of the Committeeagainst five. However much we as a Committee may have failed in our duty, I can only speak in the highest terms of the officers which you, Mr. President, were good enough to placeat our disposal. I asked the secretary who travelled with us to proceed ahead by two days, in order to make arrangements, such as securing witnesses, which I thought would. considerably reduce our time in Tasmania. That consideration should not be overlooked; it is, I think, to our credit.. The actual days of sitting were, in the case of the one Committee, three. Taking: the lowest figure of £62 16s. 9d., that amounts to £20 18s. 8d. per day. Our Committee sat for five days, and with respect to the sum of £96 15s. Id., that amountsto £19 4s., which is also a little to ourcredit. Our Committee sat both morning and afternoon, while the BalfourCommittee was able to get through its work by sitting only in the mornings. Of course, we may have called witnesses unnecessarily, and have summoned more than we should have done; but that was. for the Committee to decide.
There is another matter with which I am rather pleased, viewed from one particular aspect. In the case of the earlierCommittee, there were certain witnessessummoned to appear at points distant from their places of residence. One was called from Balfour to tender evidence at Hobart, and another at Launceston. The reason why I refer to that is because you were good enough in your remarks, sir, to say that “ it would be infinitely cheaper for the Committee to bring to Melbourne from, say, Perth, a few witnesses which it means to examine than for members, accompanied by the secretary and a Hansard reporter, to travel to such places to examine those witnesses.” We were informed by you that the trip to Tasmania was in the nature of a very agreeable peregrinating picnic. I do not think it was very much of a picnic myself, but you said so; therefore, I suppose it was. You said also -
I find, that the Committee’s trip to Tasmania cost about £90. It would have been much cheaper to bring to Melbourne the witnesses to be examined, giving them the trip, instead of having the Committee peregrinating expensively in war-time, when every shilling is required.
As to two of the witnesses called in respect to the Balfour inquiry, they -were heard respectively in Hobart and Launceston, at a cost of £27 3s. 6d. That is an average of £13 l1s. 9d. The Intoxicants Committee called twenty-nine witnesses in Tasmania. On that basis, if we had called them from a distance equal to that between Balfour and Hobart, it would have meant an expenditure of £337 10s. Had we brought them over from Tasmania to Melbourne the cost, of course, would have been still higher. It was necessary to call before the Intoxicants’ Committee, State Commandants, officers in charge of military camps, doctors, and the like. Apart altogether from the question of expense, it was more practicable to examine such important officials at the places in which they were on duty than to call them away for several days to attend at Melbourne. It would have been cheaper for us to travel to the various cities than to bring the many witnesses to Melbourne. I do not think the Balfour Committee was at all extravagant. It did not spend any money beyond that which it was entitled and properly authorized to spend; otherwise you, Mr. President, would not have sanctioned it. This factor must be recognised also. Expenses are higher at hotels than four or five years ago.
There are certain people in Australia who are not anxious that any inquiry should be conducted with respect to the drink traffic. They are interested in the liquor traffic. They have vested interests, which are often a great deal stronger than public interests.
– There is nothing particularly secret about the drink traffic.
– Some people who have shares in breweries, and other such interests, consider it against those interests that there should be any inquiry into the effects of drink; for there is no knowing what the result may be. In the in quiry of which I was chairman there was some evidence which the Government refused to permit to be published in the papers. It was not that it would help Germany to win the war, but the Government thought it better for certain reasons not to make it public. Some evidence given to us was of a character which, although I am a total abstainer, I suggested should not even be reported by our official reporter, but should be heard in camera. That proposal was adopted unanimously, and some of the evidence was actually heard in camera. Dealing with the effects of intoxicants upon our soldiers, I think it will be generally recognised that it is imperative that some reform should be instituted. In this connexion I may be permitted to refer to a sub-leader which was recently published in the Argus - a journal which I am sure nobody will regard as a very strong advocate of total abstinence or as the official organ of temperance organizations. The article in question reads -
Soldiers would very naturally resent restrictions upon the consumption of drink applicable solely to themselves. Nor will the public accept readily a reform which appears to cast any slur upon men to whom, as a whole, the community is in such deep debt. But the honour which all feel as due to the soldier adds to the poignancy of the spectacle when men in uniform are seen in a drunken state. Before such drastic proposals as those recommended by the Senate Committee are accepted a whole-hearted effort should be made to cure the evil by an awakened public opinion. Men “shouting” for soldiers (who are nearly all in ill-health) do them the worst unkindness. The reputation of hotelkeepers as a class is involved. No licensee should permit any man, much less a soldier, to be supplied with liquor in excess. Hotelkeepers who profit by over-indulgence by soldiers should be driven out of business. The duty of searching out the discreditable examples rests with the trade itself. In their own interests, as well as for the higher motive, the associations which control the trade should see to it that unscrupulous hotelkeepers are not allowed to bring disgrace upon the whole body of licensees.
That article suggests that there should be an awakened public opinion upon this matter. I care not how we achieve our end, so long as it is achieved. If it be possible to achieve it by means of an awakened public opinion I shall be glad to see it secured in that way. In regard to the position of the Select Committee appointed by the Senate to inquire into this particular question, I shall be pleased indeed if the Government will tell us definitely whether or not it is to he provided with any further funds. Parliament is about to go into recess, and the members of the Committee naturally desire to know precisely where they stand.
I now wish to say a few words in reference to the post-office. Upon two occasions in this Chamber I have asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral to get a little information for me. Six or seven months have since elapsed, but that information has not been forthcoming.
– Does the honorable senator mean that he has received no reply ?
– Yes. It appears that country telephones are charged double rates on Sundays.
– The honorable senator said that he had received no reply to his question.
– I did get a reply to one of my questions. But my chief inquiry was as to the reason why long distance and country telephone lines are charged double rates on Sundays, whilst the metropolitan lines are not. I have not been able to obtain an answer to that question. I have observed that the Postal Department is now paying, and I am very glad that it is. I gather from my inquiries, however, that in reality it is the telephonic branch of the Department which is paying. The postal and telegraphic branches are not paying, but there is a substantial surplus from the telephonic branch. If that be so, it does seem strange that country telephones should be charged double rates on Sunday. Just now I expressed pleasure that the Postal Department is paying, and I may be permitted to add that it is a matter of especial pleasure to me to know that the telephonic branch is paying, because it fell to my lot to introduce the special telephonic rates which are responsible for the present surplus.
– Who suggested those rates? I think that the Postal Commission recommended them.
– I brought forward those rates before the Postal Commission’s report was laid upon the table of the other branch of the Legislature, and I had no knowledge of their recommendation. In this connexion I would like to read what the present PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Webster) said of those rates. He stated -
I should not have done so had not the Minister definitely decided to introduce, on the 1st September, a system of telephone rates based on data that is absolutely unreliable, and hasnothing to recommend it.
He then went on to say -
I hope the Minister will stay his hand until the Commission’s report recommending certain rates has been submitted. If he does not, the blame for the mistake which will have been made, will lie on his shoulder, and not on mine.
Before concluding I desire to make a few observations regarding the manifesto which was recently published under the name of the Postmaster-General. But Senator Keating dealt with the matter so ably this afternoon that I shall make only the briefest reference to it. The Postmaster-General has affirmed that he intends to put an end to advancement by seniority. I think that we ought to know exactly what that means. I am one of those who believe that advancement should be by merit and not by seniority, but that other things being equal seniority should be the determining factor. From the statement made by the PostmasterGeneral, I infer that for some considerable time promotions have been made on account of seniority and not on account of merit.
– That is contrary to the system that is provided for in our Public Service Act.
– Decidedly! Whilst other things being equal, the senior man ought always to be given a preference, if promotions have been made solely on the ground of seniority, the late Public Service Commissioner and the Acting Public Service Commissioner have miserably failed in their duty. We have also been told that the PostmasterGeneral intends to do away with Public Service examination. We have a right to know whether this is the policy of the Government. We are told that there is to be a lecture hall, in which there will be class-rooms, a library, billiard tables, a gymnasium, and other means of instruction and recreation provided for public servants associated with the Post and Telegraph Department.
– Is there to be a bar?
– No; I understand that the institute is to he run on the dry canteen principle. We are told that officers are to advance in the Post and Telegraph Department, not solely because of the work they perform in the Department, but also according to marks earned in the lecture hall, the library, and, possibly, the gymnasium and the billiard-room of the institute. Senator Keating urged that if these facilities were to be provided for Post Office officials in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane, they should be provided for Hobart, Burnie, and similar .places. I go further, and say that they should also be provided at places like Mr Brown and Milparinka. Marks are to be given for work done at the institute. Are we to understand that proficiency in playing billiards is; under this proposal, to be a reason for advancement in the Department? If a good billiard player is to be advanced in the Department because of marks earned in the billiard-room of the institute in Melbourne, men in the back-blocks and at places like Milparinka and Mr Brown will be placed at a disadvantage, because there will not be the same facilities there for playing billiards. We are told, further, that if any one desires to go to the institute, and is prepared to give up twothirds of his own time for that purpose, he is to be allowed one-third of Government time. If a man wishes to become proficient at billiards, so long as he is prepared to give to the study of the game two-thirds of his own time, he is to be allowed one-third of the Government’s time.
So far from doing away, as is proposed, with the examination necessary to secure entrance to the Public Service, my voice and vote will be given to retain the examination test. Before the change of policy which is suggested can be given effect to, a Bill must be introduced for the purpose, and the matter can then be seriously discussed. I agree with Senator Keating that the examination is not an infallible test of capacity; but, taking everything into consideration, it is better than any other method that has been proposed for the selection of persons to be employed in the Public Service. To abolish the Public Service examination will only lead to favoritism in appointments to the Service. That was the experience of times past, when no entrance examination was provided for. One of the difficulties we have to contend with at present in the Public Service is caused by the fact that there are so many men in it who entered it before the examinations were instituted, and some of them are a drag upon the Service. Perhaps some of them are the drone3 whom Mr. Webster proposes to remove from the Service. I am in favour of “the entrance examination before appointment to the Public Service, because, amongst other things, it gives the poor man’s son the same chance as the rich man’s son to get into the Service, and it gives the person in the back-blocks the same chance as the residents of .the big cities.
Sitting suspended from 12.6 to 1.15 a.m. (Saturday).
– I do not feel justified, after the protracted sitting, in detaining the Senate for any length of time. But two or three things were said in the course of the debate that present sufficient justification for my making a few remarks at this juncture. The speech to which I particularly wish to direct attention was that delivered in the early portion of the sitting by Senator Gardiner..
I shall not make any reference to that portion of the honorable senator’s address which was a more or less anaemic reproduction of a recent State election squabble in New South Wales. However interesting that might be to those immediately concerned, it was not of sufficient importance to have occupied the time of the Senate. I say without any hesitation that the only justification there appeared to be for bringing the matter here was that it might figure in the records of Hansard, and by that means find a convenient, and not expensive, form of circulation in the district immediately concerned.
Passing from that, I should like to make a reference to a remark falling from the same honorable senator as to the reasons for the alleged cheapness of meat in Queensland. He was referring, with something of a note of triumph, to the fact that the Queensland Government were enabled by the methods they adopted to furnish cheap meat to the consumers in that State. Until I interjected, Senator Gardiner carefully abstained from saying how that cheapness of meat in Queensland had been brought about. It is as well to place on record exactly what has happened there. There is no magic in obtaining cheap food if you are prepared to commandeer it at a price below its proper value.
What happened in Queensland was this: When Mr. Ryan, acting as head of : the Queeusland Government, made a contract with the Imperial authorities, by which they undertook to pay a certain -price for Queensland’s exportable surplus of beef, he Blackmailed the owners or -that beef by insisting as a condition of the contract that he should be allowed to take meat for his State shops at something less than the price at which he contracted to supply it to the Imperial Government. One of two things follow from that. Either Mr. Ryan acted unfairly to the British Government when he charged them the price he did, or to the producers of beef in Queensland when he paid them a lower price than he charged the Imperial Government. If he was justified in paying for local consumption - for his own shops, and not for all the shops in Queensland - a lower price of about1d. per lb. than that which hecharged the Imperial Government-
– The difference was the difference between 31/2d. and 45/8d.
– A difference of a shade over1d.per lb. If Mr. Ryan was entitled to pay the producers of beef in Queensland something over1d. per lb. less than his own contract with the Imperial Government showed it to be worth, he was equally entitled to pay them 2d. or 3d. per lb. less. I say that, to the extent of the difference between those prices, Mr. Ryan blackmailed the producers of beef in Queensland.
-Colonel O’Loghlin. - They are getting a payable price.
– If it is a payable price, then Mr. Ryan had no right to blackmail the Imperial authorities by charging them a higher price. He was acting unfairly to the Imperial authorities, who left the matter with him to make the contract, and was guilty of a breach of the trust reposed in him by them at a time when the Empire is fighting for its very existence, or he was acting unfairly to the producers in his own State. If there is any virtue in obtaining cheap meat by taking it at less than its fair value, Mr. Ryan is entitled to the credit of it. It is easy to obtain things cheaply on those terms. But why pay anything at all? If you are going to take anything, and pay only a portion, and not the whole of its value, the extent to which you rob those from whom you take the commodity is only a question of degree. One marvels almost, as in the case of the celebrated Indian ruler, at the moderation of gentlemen who see virtue in taking a thing and paying for it less than its market value, that they stopped where they did. Perhaps we may regard this transaction as the beginning of a new system of statecraft, and matters have only to proceed a little further in Queensland on similar lines when the people there will have still cheaper meat.
– They approve Of what was done. That was shown at the last elections in Queensland.
– Senator O’Loghlin’s interjection reminds me of a story which may be appropriately repeated here. A man was charged with stealing some hogs, and his own lawyer advised him that he had not a hope of getting off. But to the astonishment of everybody but the accused the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. The lawyer congratulated his client upon the verdict, and said, “I do not know how you did it.” The answer was, “It was easy enough. All of those jurymen had some of them hogs.” It is not difficult to understand that the people of Queensland, revelling in cheap meat taken unfairly from a minority of their number-
– That is the honorable senator’s statement. I say the producers are getting a fair price.
– Then I say that Mr. Ryan is impaled upon the horns of a dilemma. Either he was unfair to the Imperial authorities, who trusted him to make a fair deal, when he asked them to pay 45/8 d. per lb. for beef.
– It was fair all round.
– If that was a fair price to pay the producers when purchasing for the hardly-pressed Imperial authorities it was a fair price to ask the people of Queensland to pay. If the price he charged the Imperial authorities was a fair price, then it was unfair that he should demand that meat should be released at 31/2d. per lb. for his shops, and not for other shops in Queensland. Mr. Ryan did not care a hang about those who purchased at other shops. He was concerned only about getting some political advantage by making it appear that the State shops were selling beef cheaper than other shops.
– He acted in the interests of the people as a whole.
– He did not act in the interests of the people..
– The great majority of the people.
– The majority of the people of Queensland do not purchase at the State shops. There was no fixed rule that any butcher in Queensland might get beef at that price. That would not suit Mr. Ryan’s book. He wanted to be able to say, “ There are the State shops managed by Ryan and Company, and you can get meat cheaper there than elsewhere.’’ Why could that be done? Because Mr. Ryan had paid for the meat a price below what he had himself decreed was a fair price for the commodity.
– It was of no advantage to him.
- Senator O’Loghlin has himself shown the advantage to Mr. Ryan. He sees to-night what Mr. Ryan saw a few months ago, and that was the effect upon the general community, who, without going deeply into causes, were satisfied with the result, and gave Mr. Ryan what he wanted. Regardless of morals and the equity of the thing, Mr. Ryan saw a political advantage, and seized it.
– It was in the interests of the community.
– The interests of a community will never ultimately be served by any act of injustice. If it is to be regarded as not inconsistent with public policy that it is right to take from any individual, or from a minority, in order to advantage the majority, sooner or later the country in which such a policy is adopted will rue the day of its adoption.
– The citizens of Rome got bread and oil free, and Rome was ruined.
– So will any country be ruined in which public affairs are run by dishonest methods of that kind.The answer to Senator O’Loghlin is that when I questioned Senator Gardiner as to whether he approved of what Mr. Ryan had done, whilst applauding the cheaper meat, the honorable senator would not identify himself with the method by which that cheap meat was obtained.
– What have the views of Senator Gardiner to do with me?
– Nothing; but in this case Senator Gardiner saw a little more clearly than Senator O’Loghlin, and he was not prepared to identify himself with the methods adopted by Mr. Ryan. Only one of two interpretations can be put upon what was done. Either Mr. Ryan was false in his trust to the Imperial Government, or he was guilty of an act of dishonest injustice to the producers of meat in Queensland.
I come now to a more important matter - the war. Important is hardly the word. When we recognise that on the outcome of the war depends all we have, all we are, and all we hope to be,, that the very right to sit in this chamber is to-day trembling in the balance, depending upon the efforts of those who are sogallantly fighting for us, it is so outstandingly important that one wondersthat any time should have been taken in this debate to discuss any other subject. Senator Gardiner was an open and frank advocate of the policy of peace by negotiation. He is not present now, but those who heard him will say that I am not overstating the case.
– General Smuts is an advocate of peace by negotiation.
– I wish Senator Gardiner stood where General Smuts does on this matter. I say at once, in fairness to Senator Gardiner, that, in common0 with every other member of the chamber, I fully understand the difficulty of his position. No one could have listened to Senator Gardiner, not only in this debate, but on one or two previous occasions, and read his recent public utterances, without recognising that if there is one unhappy and troubled man in the political world to-day, it is Senator Gardiner. He sees clearly, as his speeches indicate, the dangerous road that is being taken by his colleagues, but lacks the moral courage to leave them, even in this great national crisis. He is torn between the calls of his own inner conscience and fear of the political associates whom he is leading.
– The Labour party leads itself ; it does not need individuals.
– We shall see directly where it is leading itself to. What does peace by negotiation mean ? The honorable senator talked as if this were a debating society, where rival teams from various schools of arts had come to debate a. mere matter of abstract interest. Does not peace by negotiation at this juncture mean an abject and cowardly surrender of all we have been fighting for? I shall take Senator Gardiner’s alternatives and test them. He said the first was victory for the Allies, which he had always believed in and fought for; that the second was peace by negotiation; and the third, victory for the Central Powers. Let us examine those three things and see what course Senator Gardiner is urging to-day in order to secure that victory for the Allies, which he said he had always believed in and fought for. I propose to succeed by a process of rejection, and will take the three propositions in reverse order. The third, Victory for the Central Powers. To avert that surely calls for all our effort and for every sacrifice of which we as a people are capable. Are you making that effort and sacrifice when you talk of peace at this juncture?
– Then I fail to understand the meaning of words.
– It depends on the terms on which peace is made.
– I shall come to that, and the people with whom we are asked to make them. Undoubtedly the possibility of a victory for the Central Powers makes the strongest appeal to us, not merely because of any attachment to the Imperial authority, the idea of which seems to appal some of my honorable friends opposite, but, if on no higher ground, that of our self-preservation here as an independent community. What does the second alternative, peace by negotiation, mean but to delay No. 3 ?
Peace by negotiation to-day with an unbeaten and unbroken Germany is tantamount to a victory for the Central Powers. It may not be the victory today, but can any one look forward with any degree of confidence to a renewal of the conflict if Germany is allowed time to recuperate, when we shall have no prospect or no great probability of having associated with us in the renewed struggle all the other nations of the civilized world as we have them to-day ? If this struggle terminates in an undefined way, can any one presume that, when the encounter is renewed, the twenty-six or twenty-seven Powers, which are now our Allies, will be again fighting with us? Is it not more likely that we should be left to fight those two Powers alone ? Peace by negotiation, therefore, is but a postponement of victory for the Central Powers.
– Can you tell us how it can ever come without negotiation ?
– I shall tell the honorable senator what we can do. We can strive to get it, and not weakly, treacherously, and in a cowardly way talk about “ throwing in the towel “ at this juncture. Is not the first alternative, victory for the Allies, the only safe course for us to pursue? It is in that direction only that we can ever hope for safety. How is it to be obtained ? Is it to be obtained by talking peace to-day - by giving indications to the enemy that we are, as Senator Gardiner “ expressed himself, doubtful of obtaining victory? Are we, by passing resolutions here, to send this message of encouragement to Germany, that if she will only hang on a little longer, if she will only develop and display that tenacity of purpose which we have always claimed as a national attribute of the British people, we are getting so tired, so faint-hearted, that we are prepared to withdraw from the contest under a pretext of a peace by negotiation? There is only one basis for a real and lasting peace, only one means by which we can achieve those purposes for which we went to war, only one means by which we can free the world from that menace which has been hanging over it like a nightmare for the last quarter of a century, and that is to carry on the contest until the Allies have managed to secure their ends. Did we enter the war prompted by any blood lust, or seeking territory, or with the idea of crushing a competitive nation? Even Senator O’Loghlin would not venture to say that any of those purposes prompted the drawing of the sword by the British Empire or her Allies. The war was entered upon by the Allied nations because they recognised that Germany was making her bid for the great prize of world-dominance, which she had long dangled before her people. Whatever may have been the immediate or professed causes of the war, we and our Allies are fighting to-day for our national independence, for the right to live in our own way, and for all that has made civilization, as we understand it, worth fighting for, living for, and dying for. If we surrender in this contest before we have achieved those purposes, we can rest perfectly assured that it will be only a few years before we shall pay a well-merited penalty for our cowardice in yielding at this juncture.
Does it never strike these peace propagandists that the nation which has done more peace talk than any other is Germany? But she has not talked peace at home. Germany talks victory to her own people, but she talks peace beyond her borders. Is Germany heartened, or discouraged, by these peace resolutions passed in the circles of those associations to which my honorable friend belongs? Does the record of our Hansard, which sooner or later will find its way to Germany, encourage or depress ber ? Let there be no mistake about what I say. Just as we get extracts from German papers, honorable senators may rest assured that Germany peruses our Ilansard after the lapse of only sufficient time to enable it to filter through that channel which, no doubt, she ha3 provided. Peace has played Germany’s part only too well during the last few months of the war. Undoubtedly, the talk of peace played Germany’s game in Russia - and peace naturally has an appeal to us all. The spectre of goldenwinged peace floating over the land again was held up to the gaze of a too-easily deluded Russia. It also played Germany’s game in Italy. It was the poison which Germany had gradually instilled into a section of the people of that country that brought about the disaster which overtook a great body of the Italians a year or so ago. All these things were the result of this idle, dangerous, prattling about peace.
– You are making assertions without a shadow of proof. Any one can make assertions.
– I agree with my honorable friend, but I am not making an assertion unsupported by facts when I say it was the gospel of peace which brought about the downfall of Russia.
– Nothing of the sort.
– What was it, then?
– It was the superiority of arms and the disorganization of the Russian people.
– And what brought about that disorganization? It was this poisonous virus that disorganized the Russian people.
– We congratulated them upon the revolution at first.
– Perhaps we did. I see by recent publications that the Russian people are now saying, “ Yes, but we have saved the revolution.” They have, but they have lost their country.
– Lloyd George congratulated them in the House of Commons.
– He spoke then in the light of the circumstances of the time. It is quite conceivable that even a gentleman of outstanding capacity, and with the many sources of information that are available to Lloyd George, seeing the Russian people arising in the first flush of the revolution, and, being, as he is, a Democrat, should have congratulated them upon their bid for liberty - especially “when they declared, as they did, that they were not only going to free themselves of their internal tyrants, but were determined to see the war through against the tyrant who rules over Germany. Lloyd George has not congratulated them upon later developments.. In the light of after events, and with the experience which comes with the lapse of time, we can see more clearly what has happened with Russia. This gospel of peace - preached, I firmly believe, by the paid agents <~f Germany - has nob merely left Russia as she is to-day - chaotic, helpless, and hopeless - but has resulted in that call for the increased effort and sacrifice that is being made by our men and their Allies on the fields of
France to-day. These are the results of peace by negotiation. Does any one opposite pretend that the Allied cause has been helped by this triumph of peace by negotiation? If there is anything in this doctrine we ought to be rejoicing today that Eussia obtained peace by negotiation ; but is any one traitor enough to this Empire to say that he can rejoice in the spectacle of Eussia impotent, knowing that because of her fall the German troops previously occupied there are today representing that spearhead, composed of German reserves, which is giving the Allies all they can do to hold their own where they stand to-night? This talk of. peace proved Germany’s greatest ally in Russia. It proved equally effective in essence, if not in extent, in Italy, and there was clear evidence that they were trying it also in France. I shall pursue the parallel no further ; but I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that Germany has more to gain than from a dozen victories on the battlefield if she can only show her people the spectacle of one portion of the British Empire saying, “ We, too, will follow the example of Russia, because the time has arrived to declare, with Senator Gardiner, that it is hopeless to obtain complete victory, and therefore, in order to avoid complete defeat, we are prepared to accept peace by negotiation.” A “declaration of that kind from a leading public man published in Germany would be worth to them many victories.
– Exactly what General Smuts said as a member of the War Council.
– But, sir, I want to point out and remind the honorable senator that this war is not merely a war of armies. It is a war of nations, and victory will come to that nation which shuts its teeth tight and hardens its heart with a resolute purpose to see it through. It is going to be a war of endurance for all the nations engaged in it. If we saw two men in conflict, and one who, between blows, talked continually about pulling out and making a peace by negotiation, we may be sure that our money would not go that way.
– But the only way to make peace is by negotiation.
– Negotiations will come ultimately. They came forRussia, But has Eussia got peace?
– Russia was conquered.
– Russia was not conquered.Russia was an invader before”” she talked peace. It was not until the poisonous peace propaganda was circulated among her people that the German armies ‘ began to push the Russians back. In order to show the effect which this peace by negotiation has had upon Eussia, I cannot do better than quote words uttered by Senator Gardiner at the Conference to which he referred. If honorable senators will turn to page 29 of the report of the Conference debates, and read the speech by Senator Gardiner, they will see that he said -
I admit freely now that I was quite unable, before Russia’ dropped out, to come to any other conclusion than that the war was morethan half over, and I believe it would have been had our Russian Ally maintained his. position.
There, it will be seen, Senator Gardiner expresses the view that if Eussia had. maintained her position - if Eussia had turned a deaf ear to those prattlers of peace - and had gone on with the joh that confronted her, this war would have been over. I share that opinion with him. If peace by negotiation is a good thing, we ought to be glad that Eussia. adopted it. If peace by negotiation is going to give us all that is hoped for, we ought to hail with delight an intimation that Italy had followed suit; and, likewise, we ought to approve of any similar action on the part of France.
– Not negotiations by the conquered with the conquerors.
– WasRussia conquered?
– YesSenator MILLEN. -Russia never was conquered, even if she were overrun, Servia was overrun, but not conquered;, and Belgium is not conquered yet. I. would be prouder to be a citizen ofa country like gallant, dismembered Belgium, which, regardless of the awful odds opposing her, resolutely held on the path of duty, prepared to make every sacrifice in the defence of her national honour, than a citizen of a belligerent allied country, which., at the present juncture, would talk of peace by negotiation.
But I would like to say to those who are offering this way out, and suggesting that we should cease from this hateful struggle, that there are others engaged in this fight who take a sterner and a clearer view of the .position. Only in last evening’s paper there appeared the following cablegram -from the Paris correspondent of the London Times: -
The Republican groups of the Left have addressed an appeal to the people of France invoking the citizens’ support of the soldiers in an inflexible will, tranquil hearts, and a lucid spirit. “ Do not listen,” they say, “ to whispers of peace without victory, which mean a century of moral degradation and economic slavery for all classes.”
In that statement there breathes the spirit of- an unbeaten and unbeatable people, and it is only by imbibing and indorsing that spirit that we can look forward to the time when we may claim victory.
Senator Gardiner said he was appalled at the prospect of another four years of war. I admit that, but I say that, better far another four years of war than an eternity of degradation and humiliation; better four more years of this deadly conflict than that we should go down beneath the foot of the Hun barbarian.
– Hear, hear! If that is the alternative.
– Senator Gardiner also said that we should make an offer of peace, and there should be behind it a kind of threat against Germany. But I point out that the Allies to-day are making all the threats they are capable of making and the one thing that is troubling them, as it troubles us, is that, apparently, the threats are not quite potent enough at this juncture. When Senator Gardiner talks about threatening Germany, does he overlook the fact that we are all out, and that as threats are not likely to disturb the enemy, negotiations for peace at this juncture will lead nowhere ? Senator Gardiner said he would like to punish Germany if that were possible. Evidently he does not believe it is possible to punish her for her great world crimes. It may, or may not, be possible to do that; but I say that the adoption of resolutions for peace negotiations will not only not punish Germany, but will save her absolutely.
– It would depend on the terms of that peace. That is the whole question.
– Does the honorable senator think or believe that an unbeaten Germany will concede the only terms which would insure safety for us.
– lt is worth trying, anyhow.
– All I can say is that peace with an unbroken Germany would not be worth five minutes’ purchase. The only way to make for our own national safety, and to insure that freedom by which we may shape our own destinies, is to be prepared to sacrifice everything in the effort, for we must know in our hearts that peace with Germany otherwise would only be maintained as long as it suited her.
– Britain and America both declare that they do not want to destroy Germany or the German people.
– I have not said that we want to do that. But I do say that we want to curb the German power which menaces the world to-day. And there is only one way in which that may be done, and that is by teaching the German people that it is neither possible nor profitable for them to continue the course of public policy which they have followed for the past generation. Let the German people see that militarism has brought triumph to them, has expanded their borders, and given them what they call their “ place in the sun,’-‘ and the German people will say that as militarism is the means by which they have secured all they have, they will stick to it.
– Naturally, if they get all that.
– At this juncture there is no power, other than the force of arms, to take it from Germany. Germany will never yield until she is beaten.
Let me say now that I welcome the fact that at least one member of the party opposite takes an entirely different view from that advanced by Senator .Gardiner. Senator Needham said that this is not the time to call for peace. And he is right. We may negotiate to obtain a peace with Germany; but with whom shall we negotiate ? In order to negotiate with any one, the negotiations ought to proceed on the understanding that any agreement arrived at would be observed, for, obviously, there would be no sense in drawing up an agreement which would not be adhered to. And can we with any degree of safety negotiate for peace with this breaker of treaties, this robber of innocent people, this murderer of women and children, of Nurse Cavells and Captain Fryatts, this sinker of hospital ships ; this nation whose hands have committed every foul crime known in the calendar of humanity ? Certainly not. Before we negotiate we must show this nation that the way of the transgressor is hard, and that as a people they cannot hope to maintain their place in the civilized world until those means they have used to our detriment have been taken from them for ever. Senator Lt.-Colonel O’Loghlin has suggested that we should distinguish between the German people and the German rulers. There is no difference to-day.
– President Wilson says there is.
– The German people have been misled by their rulers, not to-day, but for many years past, and so I readily believe that they to-day are heart and soul as much behind their rulers as the people of the British Empire are behind the Imperial Government. If their rulers are able to point out to them that in the British Empire there are people who are willing to surrender and talk of peace; that their enemies are being disrupted and becoming faint-hearted; that they are ceasing to put forth a supreme effort, undoubtedly they will be encouraged to continue in the hope that before long victory, and the rewards of victory, will be theirs.
I say it is too late to talk of peace by negotiation. The time to talk peace and consider the consequences of war is not to-day. It was in 1914. If we were afraid of the consequences of war and were prepared to surrender our national safety, we ought then to have taken that attitude, because we could have made any peace we liked with Germany in 1914 so far as Australia is concerned. Germany would have made any peace with Great Britain then. But when she had made it would she have hesitated to tear up the treaty, just as she tore to shreds the bond to which her rulers had placed their signature, and which was as sacred as it was possible to make any such bond?
There is only one way to win through and make peace, and that is to destroy German militarism. It is undoubtedly unfortunate if in our action to destroy that militarism we inflict suffering upon the German people and similar suffering upon our own people; but I speak with firm conviction when I say that if this war terminates with German militarism unbroken, we shall not be entering into a peace, but into a prolonged preparation for another war, in which the circumstances from our point of view will not be so favorable. Therefore; we must win to-day or the Empire, sooner or later, goes out of existence. It is for that reason, seeing that no peace by negotiation will break down German militarism, that we must fight on. Is it to he supposed that if we §ay, “Peace by negotiation, rid yourselves of your ruling class, depose your Kaiser, and disband your armies,” Germany will listen to that?
– Not likely.
– As the honorable senator says, “ Not likely,” indeed ! If peace by negotiation led to peace now, it would leave Germany free to recuperate, and the Allies in the position to fall apart. If we prize our liberty, of which we talk so freely, if we believe that our rights are worth the effort to hold them, then the only time to be making that effort is now.
– The British Government have repudiated all idea of the imposition of a new form of government on the German people.
– Is that a reason why we should leave the German power unbroken and free to return in hostile attack upon the nations of the world so soon as it is ready again?
Now, 1 turn briefly to another aspect. Senator Gardiner was indignant when he stated that certain accusations were being made against the Labour party. Some question arose as to its loyalty. Senator Bakhap, in plain terms, said he questioned that loyalty so far as a big section of the Labour party was concerned. I join myself with the honorable senator. I do not believe for one moment - and I am proud and glad to be able to say it - that all the adherents of the Political Labour League are traitors to our country. The doom of our Empire would be sealed if that were so. But in that party, working steadily, and many of them directing the destinies of their various organizations, there are those who say by every word and action that the last thing they desire is to help the Empire at this present time. I support that assertion of Senator Bakhap by drawing the attention of honorable senators to the war resolution recently passed by the Labour Conference in Sydney, which was, in effect, that a communication be made to the Imperial authorities demanding that negotiations for peace be opened at once, and that, failing acquiescence, Australia should take no further part in the war.
– Was that at the Conference or at the Trades and Labour Council?
– I am not certain which.
– It makes a difference. The Conference represents the Labour party of New South Wales, and the Labour Council does not.
– It is a section of the Labour Executive.
– It is the Conference which frames the policy of the’ party.
– The point’ is that that resolution was not passed by a National gathering, but by a gathering of adherents of some one or other of the associations affiliated with the Labour party. It cannot, therefore, be wrong for me to term it an expression of the view of an important section of the Labour party. Is that evidence of loyalty, of a desire to play the game? I can understand those who, like members of the Society of Friends, may urge peace. But when a party of this kind, under no stress of religious conviction, says, “Not only do we ask you to consider our views, but if you do not adopt them, then, so far as Australia is concerned, we shall pull out of the war- “
– That is peace by negotiation.
– Yes, and a most damnable forsaking of our boys who have gone to the Front.
In denouncing those who have questioned the loyalty of some of his associates, Senator Gardiner referred rather bitterly to accusations which, he said, had been made by Nationalist papers against those with whom he was allied. Nothing that has been said by any Nationalist paper is onehalf as scathing as that which has been stated by Labour Itself. What is taking place in my State to-day? Why is one union after another breaking away from the Labour party ? Is there any stronger condemnation of its actions possible?
– What are they breaking away from ?
– I will tell the honorable senator why the Newcastle Trades and Labour Council broke away from the Sydney Trades and Labour Council.
– Possibly a lot of those members had no sympathy with the Labour party.
– It is a new thing to say that a Trades and Labour Council in a district like Newcastle, with its robust body of miners, is not Labour, and has not Labour sympathies.
– I said, “ What did they withdraw from?”
– From affiliation with the Sydney Trades and Labour Council, owing to the latter body’s peace resolution. And for that reason, I stretch out my arm, and metaphorically shake hands with those robust loyalists represented by the Newcastle Trades and Labour Council.
– It was precisely for the same reason that honorable senators who are now associated with us withdrew from the Labour party.
– Here is a short statement by a member of the Newcastle Council who seconded the motion -
We cannot remain affiliated with the Sydney Council. They are anti-British. We believe in recruiting. It would be far better if Judd and his followers were in Germany. We would then have a better chance of fighting them, and giving them their deserts in this war.
The language is crude, but the sentiment is magnificent.
Dealing further with Senator Gardiner’s complaints as to the criticisms cast upon himself and his associates, let us look at what Labour journals have to say upon the matter. Here is an article from the Railway Union Gazette - a. Labour journal, surely! I have never heard it” in any way associated with thepolitical party to which I belong. This; is what it has to say about Senator Gardiner.
– I thought you would be using that. It is a choice little bit for you.
– The Railway Union Gazette states -
Senator ‘ Albert Gardiner, leader of the Labour Party in the Australian Senate, should be seized by the ear, led to the portals of Labour’s temple, and kicked ignominiously down the steps.
I am not saying that that journal is or is not right; but not to my knowledge has any Nationalist - individual or newspaper - ever spoken of or referred to Senator Gardiner in those terms. The Gazette continues -
Gardiner has been false to his trust, and has Attacked the Victorian movement in a most scurvy fashion. He doesn’t like the Victorian branch of the movement, and there is a reason.
He hasn’t forgotten the chastisement he received from the conference of 1910, for attempting to smash the Clothing Trades Union at the time its members employed in the Commonwealth Clothing Factory struck for decent conditions.
The blow inflicted to Gardiner’s vanity at that time rankled, and it is common knowledge that he obtained legal opinion with a view of taking legal proceedings against the Victorian party. Advised that he had no case at law, he swallowed his chagrin, and apparently waited his opportunity.
We next find our worthy senator as silent as the proverbial oyster, and clinging desperately to office, whilst Hughes and some other of his colleagues were attempting to Prussianize Australia. Gardiner never raised his voice on that issue, and there is not the smallest measure of thanks due to him for the rote of 1910.
We next find this elusive gentleman on no fewer than two occasions advocating a coalition Government, notwithstanding the very definite decisions of the Labour party upon this point.
And now we have this malicious attack upon the Victorian A.L.P. Gardiner has been wobbling for quite a time. If he will not voluntarily join his Nationalist friends, then the sooner Labour lodges a writ of ejectment upon him the better it will be for the good name of the movement.
Have any Nationalists ever spoken of Senator Gardiner in that way? The strongest critics of the Labour movement to-day are Labour men themselves.
– What brought that attack upon him ?
– Because he said in this Senate that we should fight to a finish.
– Because he stood up for the Empire.
– I would like to pass on now to say that there is nothing more dramatically complete, than the action being taken in the Labour movement to-day. Those unions which are falling apart are not doing so without cause.
– Are you worrying about it?
– No; not when I see men, with the right course before them, having the courage to follow it. I do not expect that any one of those unions which are withdrawing from the Labour party will be siding with my party politically. There is a higher thing than party to-day. I would shake hands with those men, and I am most willing to stand with them shoulder to shoulder in any effort we can jointly make to further that which we all have at heart, namely, the permanent security of the British Empire.
Let us consider this action on the part of the unionists. We know the tenacity with which Labour clings together. We know that solidarity has been the chief lever to the success of the Labour movement. Can we suppose that those unions, knowing that, have voluntarily surrendered the principle without excellent cause? If there is any justification for charges of disloyalty against the leaders of the Labour movement today, it is to be found in the attitude and actions of those unions whose loyalty is forcing them to break away. What is the nature of the resolutions which have gone over to Western Australia? What are the resolutions that have been carried from the eastern States to the Labour Conference in the West? They are peace resolutions, and consequent upon them these loyalist unions have declared, “Much as wc love our unions, we love our country more.
I wish to clear up one other point raised by Senator Gardiner, and I do so because he stated distinctly that I was wrong in an interjection which I made during the course of his remarks. He stated that at the Governor-General’s Conference the initial motion which was submitted had not been proceeded with because Mr. Hughes, owing to ill-health, was not present. I contradicted Senator Gardiner, and he challenged me to find in the record of that Conference evidence of any other reason. In looking through the reports of the gathering I came across the following on page 12, where Senator Gardiner said -
I could join with Senator Millen in carrying a resolution of that kind, but would that link up with us the hundreds of unionists who have been thrown out of employment, or the 82,000 unionists who have been de-registered because of the action of the National Governments in combination?
I hope, however, that we will close this Conference without any resolutions being carried, because in that way we shall demonstrate the unity and good feeling of delegates. Hard and fast motions drafted to meet the occasion will not, in my judgment, bring about unanimity.
My statement is - and that quotation proves it - that it was not the temporary absence . of Mr. Hughes for a day or two which prevented Senator Gardiner and his associates from adopting that motion. It was because Senator Gardiner and a number of those associated with him were afraid to go back to their unions and tell them they had subscribed to the motion. Mr. Ryan also objected to the motion. Although these delegates to the Conference found no fault with it, and although they all say that they would willingly have supported it, they did not do so. Mr. Ryan said -
But I am inclined to think that, perhaps, the experience in connexion with the two conscription issues has made the delegates inclined to scrutinize very closely the wording of a motion which superficially may appear innocuous, but which may subsequently prove, by the use that would be made of it, to be loaded.
No reference to Mr. Hughes’ absence through illness ! As a matter of fact it was never mentioned in the whole course of the debate as a reason for not adopting the motion. Mr. Scullin said -
If the Conference insists on putting this motion to a vote now, it will be placing in a false position men who have come here from all parts of Australia.
Let me direct attention to the motion, the adoption of which was going to place them in “ a false position.” It read as follows : -
That this meeting, recognising the urgent necessity for united effort in order to secure adequate reinforcements under the voluntary system of enlistment, resolves to consider impartially and with all good-will such proposals as may be made to enable Australia to respond to the appeal for men addressed to the Dominions by the Imperial Government
With whom was the adoption ot that motion going to place them in a false position? With loyalists who wanted to get recruits, or with that section of the Official Labour party which does not want to get them, and declines to do anything in the direction of getting them? Mr. Storey, the Leader of the Labour party in NewSouth Wales, said -
It is useless to talk of carrying a motion, that we uncompromisingly commit ourselves, to assist in recruiting work, because, when the Conference disperses, members generally will take no further notice of it.
He could only claim to be speaking for himself and his immediate associations. He had no right to speak for the whole of the Conference in using those wordsMr. Tudor said -
My suggestion is that we should not take avote upon anything.
I mention these things in order to showthat the statement made by Senator Gardiner, or the excuse that he offered for not voting for the motion - Mr. Hughes’ absence through ill-health - had not a vestige of truth in it. The fact is that Senator Gardiner and his friends, or many of them, were afraid that by adopting it they would be placing themselvesin a false position with those by whom they would be called to account on returning to their respective organizations. In order to show the attitude of these gentlemen, let me read the motion which was put up by them at the end of the proceed ings. Mr. Tudor moved -
That this Conference, meeting at a time of unparalleled emergency, resolves to make all possible efforts to avert defeat at the hands of German militarism, and to secure an honorable and lasting peace.
I ask honorable senators to note the words “to avert defeat.” It was a resolve, not to make an effort in order to secure victory, but merely to make an effort in order to avert defeat. Any peace society in the country could have adopted the same motion. The Conference wasnot called together for that purpose; it was called together for the purpose of devising means of getting men to carry on the war. Yet they put that motion forward. A more flabby, anaemic motionin a time of national crisis was never submitted anywhere, and I regret to say that when Mr. Hughes submitted a more vigorous proposal it was declined, and the Conference broke up with a resolution which was an admitted compromise in, order to secure unanimity. It reads as follows : -
That this Conference, at a time of unparalleled emergency, resolves to make all possible efforts to avert defeat at the hands of
German militarism, and urges the people of Australia to unite in a whole-hearted effort to secure the necessary reinforcements under the voluntary system.
It is mild enough, heaven knows to what extent ! But, although it had nothing in it to offend anybody, and everything in it to appeal to those who were loyal to their country and saw the danger confronting it, what reception did it receive from those who speak for Labour in New South Wales? It was defeated by a majority of three to two. A curious incident occurred in that debate in Sydney. Mr. Morby was at the Conference at Government House, and he carried the resolution into what was an apparently hostile meeting in Sydney, but he fought for it loyally, and the fight continued for several days, but neither Senator Gardiner nor Mr. Tudor uttered a word of encouragement to him or took any action to strengthen his hands. They left him alone to fight as best he could, fearful, apparently, of bringing upon themselves that hostility which they left unchecked to range round the man who had been their fellow colleague. There are a dozen ways in which a man who is in the public eye may be helped. Even if that Council had declined to receive either Mr. Tudor or Senator Gardiner, a letter in the press or a public statement by one of them would have had a welcome or a moral effect which would have told, if not at that gathering, at any rate with the community outside. Yet neither raised his voice nor stretched a hand to get through that council a motion to which they had subscribed in Melbourne. Evidently they were appalled by the hostile reception extended to it, and so they left Mr. Morby to stand alone.
In the course of his remarks, Senator Gardiner indulged in prophecy, or rather expressed the opinion that it would be impossible to look for victory over the Central Powers. I hope that the Senate will not be too prone to regard the honorable senator as a prophet in these matters, but lest it should be, I would like to place on record another prophecy in which he has indulged. Speaking at the Conference, he ventured into the arena of expert military opinion, and delivered himself of these words -
Surely, when the position is so serious, this Conference is one in which we can drop all pretence. In saying that the position is serious, I am not much concerned about the battlefield of France to-day, because it looks to me as if the Allies have made the cleverest move that they have made in the war to date, in drawing the Germans out of their concrete trenches, and I shall await with interest the developments during the next month.
Honorable senators will remember that while the Conference was sitting, the first of the three German drives had commenced, and our troops had fallen back about 25 or 30 miles. Is it to be assumed, as Senator Gardiner did, that the Allies had adroitly drawn back in order to draw the Germans on? If so, they have repeated the operation twice, and they have only to go on drawing back in orderto encourage the Germans to advance, and they will soon reach that position when there will bo no further land upon which to draw back. “Utterances of this kind steps to redeem their promises absolutely, no conception of the position we stand in to-day, else he would never have uttered such an opinion.
The honorable senator has asked what the Government have done to redeem the promises we made at that Conference. The New South Wales Government have taken steps to redeem their promises absolutely, and have called a special session of the State Parliament with a view to passing Bills to secure the re-registration of deregistered unions. The Commonwealth Government promised to remit all outstanding money penalties; those penalties have been remitted. We also promised to release from prison any person sentenced for offences arising out of and during the strike; that promise has been fulfilled. We also promised to review any war precautions regulations after Mr. Tudor had communicated his views to us as to which regulations he thought should be withdrawn. He has done so, and we have repealed some of them, and have communicated with him regarding the others. We promised that there should be a relaxation in connexion with the administration of the censorship; a supervising committee has been formed on which Labour journals are represented, and short of giving up the right, which we dare not give up, of exercising a censorship, we have honestly redeemed our promise in that regard.
Another matter discussed, and referred to by Senator Gardiner, was the matter of the Industrial Workers of the World prisoners. He and others, not only here but elsewhere, are continually repeating the statement that these men are detained in gaol after having served their sentences. That statement is not correct. The law requires that after the members of the Industrial Workers of the World have completed in gaol the term to which the Court has sentenced them, they shall be detained there until such time as there is an opportunity for deporting them. That is their sentence. They cannot be detained one moment after they have fulfilled that sentence. It is a perversion of the truth to say that these men are illegally detained in gaol. I listened to Senator Gardiner as I have listened ‘o others pouring out a flood of sympathy for members of the Industrial Workers of the World organization. My sympathy goes out, not to them, but to those who would have been their victims had they been allowed to carry through their programme. I have not forgotten that the members of this association tried to burn down places in Sydney in the middle of the day when they were crowded with women and children.
– Those are not the men for whom we are pleading.
-r-It is the members of that association for which the honorable senator and members of his orgazation are stumping the country to-day, seeking to raise an utterly false sympathy for them. I remember that two members of the Industrial Workers of the World, in cold blood, murdered a policeman. He was sitting at his office desk when they sneaked up in the dark, and fired at him through the open window. There was a petition got up to secure the reprieve of those men, who have met a very wellmerited punishment, but there was no movement to render succour to the relatives of the murdered man. When these beasts in human form are walking through our streets it is a perversion of what sympathy really is to talk about having sympathy for them.
– Those are not the cases brought under the Minister’s notice.
– These men are members of the same organization, which has been formed for that purpose. The Act declares that those who join it shall suffer penalties, and unless one is a sympathizer with them he should be offering congratulations to the country on having a Government in power which, in spite of all the pressure from the other side, is determined to rid the country of these pests.
– Specific cases were submitted to the Minister.
– The Government have gone into all the specific cases submitted, and where they thought leniency might be extended they have extended it. Where they thought it should not be extended it has not been shown, and Ministers are not disposed to yield to a popular cry and release men whom it believes to be dangerous. If I have detained honorable senators more than a reasonable time I ask them to remember that, more or less imperfectly, I have attempted to deal with those things which are of vital importance at the present moment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill he now read a second time.
The Supply Bill submitted herewith provides for expenditure for three months, ending 30th September, 1918. Under the system of fortnightly pay now in vogue a pay day falls due on 4th October, 1918, and additional provision has been made to meet this payment. The Bill provides £5,574,440 for the Services of the period mentioned, but this total includes £1,000,000 for Treasurer’s Advance, the necessity for which is referred to later, and £100,000 for refunds of revenue. The figures are based mainly on the estimated expenditure under annual votes for 1917-18, which is £15,707,522. In certain cases, however, provision has been made for an increase in expenditure over the annual rate for 1917-18. Chiefly may be mentioned the provision for war pensions and the repatriation of soldiers, which accounts for an increase of £550,000 over the proportion of onefourth of the estimated expenditure for 1917-18.
Provision is made only for those increases in salary which are automatic under the Public Service Act and regulations, or which accrue under Arbitration Court awards. No increases are provided forofficers in the higher divisions of the Service. All services which have been provided for in the Bill have previously been approved by Parliament.
The Government has not yet formulated its works policy for the coming year, nor decided whether these works are to be paid for out of revenue or loan fund. A Supply Bill has, therefore, not been submitted for additions, new works, and buildings. An unusually large amount, namely, £1,000,000, already referred to, has, therefore, been provided under Treasurer’s Advance, which includes provision for urgent works. Briefly, that is the purpose of the Bill, which, as I have already indicated, contains nothing other than has appeared in’ the ordinary Supply Bills which have been dealt with, except the two items to which I have referred. All the rest of it is in conformity with Bills to which the Senate has given its assent.
– Perhaps it may be correct for me now to ask the Minister forRepatriation if he is yet in a position to announce the intentions of the Government as to the fixation of prices of meat?
– Quite a new subject.
– But it is a very important one, even if it is not new.
– It is not a subject which arises upon the second reading of this Bill.
– . Senator Keating is not yet the President of this Chamber, and until I am ruled out of order I intend to proceed with my remarks.
– Even as a member, Senator Keating knows that.
– I think that this is an opportune time for the Leader of the Senate to answer my question.
– Neither the time nor the place is opportune for that question.
– Will the Government inform the people as to what is their policy in connexion with this matter? Surely, before we adjourn, the
Ministry can announce their intentions in. that regard.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Price-Fixing : Meat - Queensland State Butcheries - Defence Department : Temporary Clerks and Overtime. Improper Practices in Ordnance Stores.
– On the vote for the Prime Minister’s Department perhaps I shall be in order in asking the Government what are their intentions in respect of the fixation of the prices of meat? I listened attentively to the very fine address upon war which has just been delivered by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Millen). I also listened to his statement concerning Mr. Ryan and the meat shops in Queensland. As Mr. Ryan is not here, I propose to take this opportunity of quoting from an interview given by that gentleman to a press representative when passing through Melbourne on his way to Western Australia on Thursday last. That interview reads -
In Queensland themeat profiteer does not exist.
– Order ! There is no item in the Prime Minister’s Department dealing with meat.
– If I cannot deal with the matter under the Prime Minister’s Department, I do not know where I can deal with it.
– I ask the honorable senator to connect his remarks with the Prime Minister’s Department.
– Why does not the honorable senator deal with the matter under its proper Department?
– What is its proper Department?
– The Department of Trade and Customs.
– If you, sir, will tell me where I can deal with the matter, I shall be very glad.
– The honorable senator will not be in order unless he can connect his remarks with the Department that is before the Chair. I do not see any item in the Prime Minister’s Department -which relates to meat.
– Some time ago it was determined that the temporary clerks in the Defence Department, with which we are now dealing, should be called upon to repay certain moneys which they had received by way of overtime. At present there are men employed there who are getting £2 10s. per week, and who are obliged to pay to the Department a certain sum each fortnight on account of a judgment of the Arbitration Court. I have here a letter written by the Secretary of the Defence Department to the secretary of the Australian Clerical Association, which reads -
With reference to your letter of the 9th May relative to the deductions being made from the salaries of temporary clerks on account of the overpayment of overtime, I am directed to inform you that the Minister is unable to approve of the request of the union to waive these refunds. It is considered that if by an interpretation of an award by the Court it had been found that the Department had underpaid temporary clerks, there is no question but that the union would have claimed that retrospective action should have been taken.
That is quite right so far as it goes. But there is another side to this question. I ask the Minister (Senator Pearce) whether it is a fact that the Defence Department is deducting overtime paid to the temporary clerks under the pretext that, had the ruling given by Mr. Justice Powers as to the definition of hours been against the Department, the clerks would have claimed retrospective pay? I also ask him how the Department can rule that the clerks should refund the amounts paid, seeing that the Postmaster-General’s Department, after the interpretation Board had given a definition of holidays, refused to make the award retrospective when it would have benefited the members of that association ? Seeing that the amount involved is a small one, I ask the Minister not to press these temporary clerks for any further refunds.
-Colonel BOLTON (Victoria) [2.33 a.m.]. - On a previous occasion I referred to certain improper practices in the Ordnance Branch of this Department. The statements which I then made were made in good faith, on undeniable evidence in my possession - evidence which, at the request of the Minister, I subsequently supplied him with. I ask the honorable gentleman whether he has taken any action in regard to the improper practices which I mentioned ?
– Dealing, first, with the question raised by Senator Needham, the facts of the case are as follow: - The temporary clerks, to whom reference has been made, are members of the Clerks Union, and that union had a case before the Arbitration Court. The award of that Court governed the clerks who are employed in the Defence Department. After the award had been given, a certain interpretation was placed upon the overtime clause contained in it, both by the clerks themselves and also by officials. Upon examination, however, it was found that the first interpretation was faulty, and the Department consequently proceeded to give effect to the correct interpretation. However, the question was the subject oft negotiation, and eventually the Court itself was asked to interpret the award which had been given in regard to overtime. It brought in an interpretation which clearly indicated that the Department had been paying more than it was expected to pay under the award. The Court had fixed the date from which the award was to operate. Prom that period onwards, the clerks had been paid more than they were entitled to. The Department, therefore - quite rightly, in my opinion - deducted the excess which it had paid over the amount which the Court declared by’ its interpretation that it had awarded. In other words, we honoured the award of the Court. Nobody can question our action in that connexion.
– Then why not pay the letter-carriers the amount that is due to them retrospectively ?
– I do not know anything about that case. I am only familiar with this case. That is a. principle which unionists have always insisted upon. If an employer had, owing to an incorrect interpretation of the award, paid less than the Court intended, and the Court, on being appealed to, had declared that interpretation incorrect. it has always ordered the employer to make up the deficiency from the date on which the award became operative. That is quite right; but “what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” The Department has paid the amount due, according to the interpretation placed by the Court upon the award, from the date on which the award came into operation.
In regard to the Ordnance Stores, Senator Bolton was good enough to inform me of his intention to mention the subject, and I have been able to consult the file. When he referred to the matter in this chamber on a previous occasion, I promised to make inquiries. I did so, and I find that it has been the subject of both a departmental Board of Inquiry and a prosecution. There had been peculations in the Ordnance Stores, and some slackness; and because of the slackness an officer named G. B. Pearce was dismissed. There was a difference of opinion between the Board of Inquiry and the QuartermasterGeneral, who is the head of the Ordnance Branch, and as. I had not the time to go into these matters in detail, I decided to refer the subject to an independent tribunal, the Business Board, which, under the Minister, will in future control the Ordnance Stores. I drew attention to what I considered the main points of the report of the Court of Inquiry regarding the dismissal of G. B. Pearce, which in its findings set out - “ 1, (a) a most unsatisfactory condition of affairs re control of stores; (b) allegations that my directions re preference to returned soldiers and non-retention of eligibles where returned soldiers can replace them are not being carried out; and, 2, the- report by the Quartermaster-General contesting and minimizing the report of the Court of Inquiry.” I added, “ As I am unable to give the necessary time to go into the details of this matter, and as the Business Board is now constituted, I refer the matter to them for further inquiry and recommendation.” I have received the result of that inquiry, as follows : -
Re G. B. Pearce Court of Inquiry.
The Honorable the Minister.
The Board has perused the evidence taken by the Board of Inquiry in connexion with the dismissal of George Benjamin Pearce. Without going into all the details connected with this unsatisfactory business, the Board is satisfied
In connexion with this matter, the Board begs to inform the Minister that it has already under consideration the question of appointment of a senior ordinance officer, the position now being filled by Mr. Nash, who is simply acting until a proper senior ordinance officer is appointed, and there is not much hope of a better condition of affairs until the appointment is made.
A recommendation as to the appointment will be made during the next few days.
As regards the peculations, I personally went through the file, and I found that a certain man was prosecuted in the Police Court, and . was committed for trial. Senator Bolton made a mistake when on a previous occasion he said that no witnesses were called for the prosecution. I have shown him that at least half-a-dozen witnesses were called for the prosecution. This person was tried in the Supreme Court, before a Judge and jury, and, after a retirement of less than five minutes, the jury returned with a verdict of “ Not guilty.” Of course, the man was discharged, and he has since gone to the Front. He has had a trial, and the Court has dismissed the case. I must assume that the man was innocent, and it does not seem possible to follow the matter any further; but I hope that the steps which the Business Board is recommending will bring about a more satisfactory state of affairs in the Ordnance Stores in Victoria.
.- The item for the “ InterState Commission,” in the Department of Trade and Customs, affords an opportunity for me to reply to the statement made by the Minister regarding the State butcher shops in Queensland. In justice to Mr. Ryan, the great Premier of that great State, I will read to the Senate an interview which he gave to the press when passing through Melbourne a few days ago. This is the report in the Age of the 13th of June-
Statement by Mr. Ryan.
In Queensland the meat profiteer does not exist. The Ryan Government has effectually checked exploitation in the meat business by growing stock and supplying meat direct to the consumers from its own butcher shops.
Mr. Ryan, the Queensland Premier, passed through Melbourne yesterday on his way to the Labour Conferencee, to be opened in Perth on Monday next. In the course of a statement on the meat question, he said his Government had effectively dealt with the subject of supplying the people with meat at fair and reasonable prices. It had established State cattle stations, so that it could supply requirements at the cost of production, plus the cost of distribution. In the meantime it had arranged with the meat export companies to supply the State butcher shops with 7,000 tons of meat a year. They do this, not on the export parity, as is now proposed here, but actually at a price slightly below the export price. The Government supplied about 12,000 families through 23 shops. The purpose of the establishment of retail shops was to supply meat at reasonable prices, and incidentally to control the prices charged by private butchers. This action of the Government indirectly had an influence upon the price of stock. When the Government discovered that the meat -market was soaring unduly high it found it advantageous to bring in a number of fat cattle from the State stations. Thus the. price of fat cattle was regulated. He had long advocated some system of fixing the price of cattle “ on the hoof “ to counteract the abnormal prices to which meat had risen during the war period. He thought that a practicable scheme could be worked out whereby it could be done. But it could only be done by a Government that was determined to go to the full extent to enforce its policy. It must not be done in any half-hearted, hesitating or vacillating way. It must be done by a Government that would not bend the knee, that would carry out its duty of governing. He was not inclined to think that there was so much real business intention in the pronouncement of the Commonwealth Government that it would arrange for fixing the price of meat. At all events, by the intimations that had been given up to the present, there had been too much delay. When the Inter-State Commission gave its first report the matter was staved off by referring the report back to the Commission. Now that the Commission had presented its second report, he noticed that “ time would be required in order to formulate the scheme.” It was essential that action should be prompt. The effect of weakness on the part of the Government at this juncture would be twofold. It would play right intO the hands of the great exploiters. It would send down the price of stock put into the market by small holders, give a splendid opportunity for the speculator to step in, and leave the consumer paying the same prices for his chops and steak as before. The strong holder probably would hold his cattle, and this would tend not towards cheapening meat, but towards creating a meat famine. If he (Mr. Ryan) were a speculator, which he was not, and he found .that a weak Government was dabbling with the question, he should be inclined to step in and buy cattle at a juncture when the small holders were timid. For example, he noticed by the press that sheep had fallen as much as 5s. and cattle as much as £3 a head. Would any consumer in Melbourne find his meat bill reduced in any respect as a consequence of that fall? He thought not.
When you, Mr. Chairman, were addressing yourself .to this question this afternoon, you advocated that the Commonwealth Government should establish cattle stations in the Northern Territory. That is a very excellent suggestion, and, for once, you and I are in agreement. But if it is a good thing for the Commonwealth Government to establish cattle stations in the Northern Territory, is it not a good thing that the Queensland Government should control cattle stations in that State, and establish butcher shops in which they are able to supply meat to the consumer at a lower price than rules in any other part of the Commonwealth?
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended; and Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a Bill to appropriate £17,416,635 for the service of the year ending 30th June, 1918. The whole of this amount with the exception of £259,113 has already been approved of by the Senate in the various Supply Bills that have been submitted to it from time to time.
Of. the total amount, £12,768,484 is required for ordinary services, and £4,648,151 for war services. The amount for war services is required mainly for the repatriation of soldiers and war pensions.
Earlier in the year, Estimates as laid on the table of the Senate showed that the anticipated expenditure from revenue would amount to £37,283,832. This amount includes the sum for which appropriation is now sought, and also amounts for new works and amounts payable under special and permanent appropriation.
The receipts set down for the financial year amount to £26,208,060. To that amount has to be added £2,077,427, the surplus brought from the previous year, making a total of £28,285,487.
The expenditure out ‘ of revenue amounts to £20,153,347, for the ordinary services of the year, and war expenditure out of revenue amounts to £8,160,404, or a total of £28,313,751.
The expenditure shown is the expenditure for the full year, but the Estimates of revenue shown ‘ represent only the actual revenue received for eleven months of the year. This leaves a deficit of £28,264. To provide for this, an amount of £30,000 was borrowed from the Australian Notes Fund. Parliamentary authority exists for this course.
The balance of £2,077,427 brought forward to theyear 1917-18 is what remains of the surplus of 1915-16. In 1916-17 the revenue amounted to £34,035,173, and the expenditure was £34,932,996, resulting in a deficit of £897,823 on the transactions of the year. That deficit was eliminated by drawing on the surplus of the previous year, and after the amount necessary for that purpose had been drawn, there still remained £2,077,427, which, as previously indicated, was brought into the revenue of this year.
The total receipts up to the 31st May, eleven months of the financial year, were £28,285,487. The total estimated receipts for the full twelve months amounted to £37,283,832. This would appear to represent a disproportionate deficit, seeing that there is onlyone month of the year to include. It happens, however, that in that month the receipts from taxation are very much heavier than the average monthly receipts for the, year, and the Treasury officials estimate that something like £3,000,000 will be received from . directtaxation in the present month. Other sources of revenue are also expected to be above the monthly average. It seems also reasonably certain that there will be a considerable saving on the Budget estimate of expenditure for the financial year, and the operations of the year should result in a surplus of, approximately, £750,000 after repaying the amount of £30,000 borrowed from the Australian Notes Fund to meet the temporary deficit.
I have briefly outlined the position in connexion with this Bill, and whilst I in no way suggest that there should be” silence on the part of honorable senators, I again remind them they have practically approved of the expenditure covered by this measure in the various Supply Bills that have from time to time been presented here. In the circumstances, I feel that I am not indulging in a vain hope if I anticipate that the measure will have a smooth and speedy passage in this chamber.
– In seconding the motion for the second reading of the Bill, I desire to redeem a promise which the Government made some time ago to inform Parliament in regard to the site selected for the Arsenal when the Estimates came to be dealt with.
The necessity for an Arsenal was discussed by the Senate in connexion with the Loan Act, as a result of which provision was made by Parliament for its establishment. The question of site, however, was reserved for further consideration by the Government, and it has now arrived at the conclusion that the best place for the purpose is at Tuggeranong, in Federal Territory.
Before this . decision was reached the Government decided to obtain the opinion of the best authorities available in Australia, and also of the experts of the British Ministry of Munitions. A Committee was appointed to consider various sites, including -
Bathurst, and at a later date -
Cadi a, near Orange, were added to the list.
The Committee, consisting of -
Major-General J. G. Legge, as military expert;
Mr. N. K. S. Brodribb, manager, Government Cordite Factory, as explosives expert;
Mr. G. D. Delprat, general manager, Broken Hill Proprietary Limited, whose leading position in the industrial manufacturing world is well known to honorable members ;
Mr. King Salter, general manager of the Commonwealth Dockyard, as mechanical engineer;
Mr. B. T. McKay, manager of Walkers Limited, engineers, Maryborough, Queensland;
Colonel R. T. Owen, DirectorGeneral of Works; and
Mr. T. H. Woodroffe, Chief Mechanical Engineer, Victorian Railways, as railways expert, visited the various sites, and considered the matter from every aspect, particularly in regard to-
The result of the reference to the Imperial authorities was summarized in the following recommendations of a meeting of the Council of the Ministry of Munitions : -
The members of the Council discussed Tuggeranong as a site, and agreed that it would be suitable so long as the labour was provided for. The question of labour supply and proximity to an existing town was very fully considered by the Australian Committee, and provision for supplying it forms part of the Government programme. As the highest authorities agree that the Government’s proposals are sound, and that the Tuggeranong site is in every way suitable for the purposes of an Arsenal, the Government has decided to establish it there, and to proceed with the work at the earliest possible moment. The scheme contemplates manufacture of all classes of munitions required by a field army, a large proportion of which, up to now, has been imported, and it is proposed, in the first instance, to take in hand the manufacture of machine guns and ammunition for field guns. It is probable that aeroplanes will also be amongst the first munitions to be taken up. The manufacture of field artillery ammunition includes brass cartridge cases, fuses, and high explosive. Other branches will follow, such as extensions of the Small Arms Factory, a gun factory, including gun carriages and vehicles, and light howitzers; and it is also intended ultimately that the Commonwealth should manufacture its own small-arm ammunition, in addition to the supplies obtained from a private company manufacturing ammunition in Melbourne.
An interesting development in connexion with the investigations into the arsenal proposal has transpired in regard to the decision of the Government to manufacture a large proportion of the machinery and tools required for arsenal purposes. Almost the whole of such articles has been imported in the past, and it is expected that the establishment of this industry will result in Australia rendering itself independent of outside supplies of metal-working machinery for the future. The Department is confirmed in its favorable anticipations regarding this undertaking by the success which it has achieved in connexion with experimental manufacture of machinery in some of its factories, in one instance, at least, the cost of duplicating a machine imported before the war being £30 less than the imported article, after allowing for all charges. Some commercial establishments have also manufactured small lots of machine tools, and it has been proved that there is no reason whatever why the larger undertaking should not he successful.
Complementary to the establishment of the Arsenal is the proposal of the Government to organize the engineering and manufacturing industries of Australia for the production of munitions in time of war. Details . of this have yet to be elaborated, but in due course proposals will be made to the commercial bodies interested, and it is hoped that a workable scheme will be drawn up.
The Arsenal will primarily be a form of insurance against war, and a training ground for the people of Australia, upon whom, in time of war, the chief burden of producing munitions will fall. It is not expected that it will ever be what might be called a paying concern, but it is the intention of the Government to secure the best staff available for its management, and there is reason to believe, from the past experience of the men already engaged to control it, that it will be managed in the most economical manner possible, having due regard to the purpose for which it was created. The qualifications of Mr. A. E. Leighton, General Manager, are already known to honorable members, and the services of Professor A. J. Gibson, of the University of Brisbane, have been secured to be Acting Chief Engineer of the Arsenal. The construction of the works will be carried out under the direction of Colonel P. T. Owen, DirectorGeneral of Works, and it is proposed to form committees, composed of leading experts in the business world, to act in an advisory capacity.
Special attention will be devoted to the Arsenal town. It is intended that this should be laid out on the most modern principles, and every facility provided for insuring the contentment of the workers, because it is realized that best results in any industry are only to be obtained from employees satisfied with their conditions. The Government has under consideration the appointment of an advisory committee, including well known town planners, to assist it in this respect. As indicated, the whole matter has received long and earnest consideration by the Government. Every possible authority has been consulted, and, as the international situation daily becomes more menacing, the Government is of opinion that there should be an immediate commencement with the work, and it proposes to commence the preliminary works forthwith.
– Surely it is not the intention of the Government to dispose of this measure at ten minutes past 3 o’clock in the morning?
– We have already passed practically the whole of these amounts.
– We have not passed them all yet. There are fifteen days of the financial year yet to come. The Government bring down the Estimates at” 3 o’clock on the morning of the 15th June for the year ending on the 30th June. I think we might very well adjourn until a later hour to-day, or until Monday or Tuesday next, when we should be able to come back fresh and vigorous to consider the different items in this Bill. We are asked to dispose, in a few moments, of a Bill providing for an expenditure of over £70,000,000.
– But with the exception of a few pounds the whole of this money has already been expended.
– Even in the Mother of Parliaments, whose practice we follow, honorable members would not be asked to dispose of a Bill, providing for such a gigantic expenditure, in a few minutes. In the remaining fifteen days of the financial year to which it relates we should be able to find out whether this money has been rightly or wrongly expended. If the Government are really serious in their request that we should deal with this Bill in a few minutes, I can do no more than register my protest.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [3.12 a.m.]. - .Some honorable senators seem to view as a joke the request that further time should be given for the consideration of this measure. I do not. We should have from the Leader of the Government in the Senate an assurance that if we agree to the second reading of this Bill he will consent to progress being reported as soon as we go into Committee. This Bill has surely been placed in our hands in order that we may study it, and yet we are asked to dispose of it in a few minutes.
– If -we adjourn now will the honorable senator promise me that he will study it?
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN We have already foregone our nights to discuss a number of questions on the motion for the first reading of the Bill.
– But honorable senators availed themselves of the opportunity to do so when the Supply Bill, of which we have just disposed, was before us.
– On the motion for the first reading of this Bill we might have availed ourselves of the opportunity to reply to the bit of special pleading in which the honorable senator indulged when closing the discussion on the Supply Bill. It is unreasonable to ask us to pass in a few moments a Bill involving an expenditure of over £17,000,000. I appeal to Senator Millen to agree to an adjournment as soon as the Bill goes into Committee, until a later hour in the day.
SenatorMILLEN (New South WalesMinister for Repatriation) [3.15 a.m.], - I would willingly agree to the request made by honorable senators opposite if I thought any practical advantage would be gained by doing so. Senator O’Loghlin has asked for a little time to look through the Estimates.
– To glance at them.
– They have been in the honorable senator’s possession for months.
– But we have not had the Appropriation Bill itself.
– Honorable senators have had the Estimates in their hands for months, and this Bill simply appropriates the amounts set out on those Estimates. Senator O’Loghlin has helped us to pass, by means of Supply Bills, more than eleven-twelfths of the amount of these proposed votes. The Senate has already approved of the expenditure, . and yet the honorable senator now asks for an opportunity for a general discussion. I remind him that it is only half-an-hour since we ended such a general discussion as that which he suggests.
– But it was not on this Bill.
– We have just concluded a two days’ debate, during which ‘ honorable senators were free to discuss any question they please, so that they havenot been deprived of an opportunity todiscuss every item in the Estimates. In the circumstances, and as every one knows we are approaching the time when it is anticipated that the Senate will temporarily close its doors, I think the most practical course to follow is to conclude now our consideration of this Bill.
– Will the honorable senator make- a statement as to the decision of the Government with regard to the fixing of the prices of meat? “Senator. MILLEN. - That is the same question which the honorable senator submitted to me on Thursday, and yet he says we have had plenty of time to deal with it since he put it to me.
– I do not know how the honorable senator can make that Statement. Since Thursday I have been occupied in the Senate, and my honorable colleagues in another place have been constantly in attendance there. The honorable senator may find satisfaction in plastering Hansard with his question, but I have not had an opportunity to consult any of my colleagues as to whether they have given any further consideration to the matter.
– Had the honorable senator any intention of consulting them?
– When an honorable senator puts such a question to me I decline to say anything more in reply to him.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until 2 p.m. this day (Saturday).
Senate adjournment at 3.25 a.m. (Saturday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 June 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1918/19180614_senate_7_85/>.